Slow set returns to Offaly in aid of boy 'fighting for his life'

Justin Kelly


Justin Kelly


It started with a kiss and then everyone got footloose on the dance floor and there was no sign of any baggy trousers.

Tullamore Rugby Club was the venue for a brilliant community fundraiser for seriously injured local boy, James Saunders.

The 13-year-old was out cycling when he was involved in a road traffic accident in Killurin in April 2019.

This resulted in many injuries including a traumatic brain injury. James is still in Temple Street Hospital and is making slow steady progress. James is a very determined young man who is fighting every day to recover.

The most pressing items at the moment are a downstairs bedroom, an adapted bathroom and a ramp in order for the family to be able to have James home for weekends and, of course, for Christmas.

The disco organised by a local committee took place at Tullamore Rugby Club on Saturday last, November 9.

The club was decorated with posters of bands from the ’70s and ’80s. The DJ who started out as the best in the midlands, left the night as the ‘best in Leinster as there was no holding back the years with his disco balls, flashing lights and smoke machine.

The dance floor was filled with fancy footwork and there was lots of jostling to find a spot on the floor when the first slow set came on. If you wanted to write a classic, this was the night to do it. There were Cindy Laupers, Madonnas, Chers, Rod
Stewarts, George Michaels, Tina Turners and many more.

DJ Kevin was in his element belting out great songs and handing out fantastic spot prizes kindly donated by many businesses from the parish of Killeigh and the town of Tullamore and Portlaoise.

There were four fantastic door prizes for people who had purchased a disco ticket and a raffle on the night with prizes from so many generous businesses and individuals.

James's parents John and Dympna Saunders had asked if a statement could be read out on their behalf. You could hear a pin drop as their words were spoken and were received by a deafening round of applause.

"On behalf of James, we would like to take this moment to thank all of you for turning up to support him. We have been overwhelmed by the community reaction to James’s plight. We have been humbled by the concern and love shown to him by all of you and countless others. We are amazed by the response not only by those we know and who know James but also by the many people who have never met him and who we do not know.

"There are so many people behind the organisation of tonight who need to be thanked. Firstly the dedicated committee of the ‘Community 4 James’ who have harnessed so much energy to organise this event. We also thank the teachers of the local primary schools and secondary school who organised events to support James. We are aware that other events are in planning and thank all those involved.

"We also wish to thank many people unknown to us who bought tickets for tonight but could not attend. Finally, we thank those who sponsored the event in any way through donations or gifts.

"James is fighting the fight of his life and you are giving him support in this fight. He is a brave young boy who knows he is loved. We know he has a tough journey ahead but he is not alone," they concluded.

The committee would like to thank everyone that helped make the night such a great success.

"Behind our committee ‘Community 4 James’ there are our spouses who hide in the background but doing as much work, to all our friends who were roped in, to all the people who bought tickets in support who could not make the night, the people who did come to support and helped create such wonderful memories, the lads and lady on the front door who froze all night as the waited for the party animals to arrive (and checked IDs to make sure they were over 40) the businesses and individuals, and there were so many, who donated prizes and money to this great cause, the rugby club who donated the use of the premises along with their great staff, the DJ who donated his time and skill," they said.

"Thank you seems so inadequate but thank you on behalf of the Saunders family for all you have done. Nothing can be achieved without help and you have all helped to make this great fundraiser such a success.

"The night was a huge success and with so much unplayed music we are happy to confirm there will be a return of the over 40s disco in the spring. Watch out for the date and get your tickets early, don’t miss out on the next one."

If you wish to donate, you can contact any of the committee members below or go to the Go Fund Me page HERE.

Committee: Ray Delaney, Ita Owens, John Healy, Kevin Keogh, Margaret Forrestal Brady, Kate Forrestal, Ger Monaghan, Sandra Dunne and Margo Sheil.