22 Jan 2022

College in Offaly offering public superb prizes in draw in aid of hospice campaign

Irish Hospice Foundation welcomes Offaly's €500,000 funding kickstart

There is excellent palliative homecare available but there is no regional specialist palliative care unit (often called regional hospice) in the midlands.

An Angus Calf and a Weekend Break in Minella Hotel are among the unique prizes up for grabs in a special Banagher College draw in support of the Offaly Hooves4Hospice campaign.

The staff and student community of Banagher College were shocked and upset last April 2020 when their much loved colleague and teacher Breed Hassett was diagnosed with breast cancer.

By September, when the schools returned, Breed had started her chemotherapy.

As Covid had disrupted the normal Transition Year program, the TY coordinating team were looking for ways to keep the students actively engaged.

The Geography teacher, Teresa Cushen, therefore approached Breed and asked her if she would mind if the TY year fundraised for breast cancer. Breed agreed and a plan was formulated.

#milesformissH was the name of the plan. The TY students agreed to walk the total length of the journey from Kinnitty where Breed lives, to St. James Hospital where she was receiving 12 rounds of chemotherapy.

Breed spoke to the TY year, to thank them for undertaking this initiative.

She explained how her mother had died at the age of 41 from cancer but with advancements in medicine and detection, more and more people were beating cancer.

Within a matter of weeks, Banagher College staff, students both past and present, and the wider community got involved. Everyone clocked their miles and donations kept coming in.

The fundraiser had participants not just from Banagher and Kinnitty but as far afield as Spain, Australia, Canada, and the Lebanon. By the time the fundraiser concluded before Christmas €14,500 had been raised for Breast Cancer Research.
Fast forward 5 months to April 2021.

Breed is currently completing the final stages of her cancer treatment.

A local cattle dealer and friend of Breed’s, in conversation last November, had promised to sponsor a calf in the Spring for the fundraiser. She had forgotten the conversation until her husband rang one afternoon recently to say that Martin Finnerty was coming out with the calf.

This Angus Calf has now been christened “Dandelion”.

Breed got on the phone immediately to the TY coordinating team and a new fundraiser was set in motion.

Breed feels that she was very lucky to have caught her breast cancer early, and feels that she will make a full recovery.

Unfortunately, there are many people who are not so lucky. There is no hospice in the Midlands. The TY team, Breed and the Agricultural Science Department decided that this time they would collaborate with the fundraising initiative #Hooves4Hospice in aid of a Level 3 Hospice to provide specialist end of life care for people in the Midlands.

The fundraising drive to create this Hospice currently has over €1,700 worth of prizes. The College has received extraordinarily generous sponsorship locally from Martin Finnerty, Liffey Mills, Banagher Precast Concrete, Grennan Mills, Radisson Blu Hotel Athlone, Grant Farm Machinery, Arrabawn Co-Op and Kilbeggan Organic Foods.

The 1st prize comes from John and Liz Nallen of Hotel Minella Clonmel.

The Nallens recently celebrated the double success of two of their former charges Minella Indo(Cheltenham Gold Cup) and Minella Times (Aintree Grand National). John and Liz’s father Jackie Nallen came originally from Banagher and they most generously offered BCCNS Calf Raffle a “Minella Double Package”. The winners will get three nights for two people in Hotel Minella plus a visit to Minella Racing Stables with complimentary Minella Racing Hats and Jackets and entry to Fethard Horse Museum. The winner will also enjoy complimentary tea/coffee and homemade treats. The winner will also have full access to the Club Minella Leisure Centre.

Tickets for this amazing raffle cost €5 each and can be bought online by simply going to and clicking on BCCNS Calf Raffle. Follow the raffle on twitter on @careersbccns and @BanagherCollege or on Instagram bccnsCalfRaffle. The raffle will take place live on Instagram on May 19th @3pm.

All proceeds will go towards getting a hospice in the Midlands and the College is appealing to all Midland Tribune readers to please support them.

The Hooves4Hospice campaign is an ambitious project which wants to fill a glaring omission in medical care in the midlands. People in the midlands are at a disadvantage when it comes to hospice and palliative care services compared to those in other parts of the country. There is excellent palliative homecare available but there is no regional specialist palliative care unit (often called regional hospice) in the midlands.

This means that patients and their families are being denied the full range of services that come with a Level 3 hospice. Research has shown that investment per person on specialist palliative care for people in Offaly, Laois and Westmeath is a fraction of that spent elsewhere. Patients have no choice in their place of care at end of life and have to rely on acute hospitals. In the midlands, 36% of cancer patients who die, die in an acute hospital compared to 25% in the Mid-West. The excellent homecare teams need the support of specialist colleagues in regional hospices so as to be able to offer the best care to patients at end of life.

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