Marymount saw record numbers attend their Light Up a Life ceremony on 1st December where Bibi Baskin and Donncha O’Callaghan turned on the lights, amid beautiful choral music, a Christmas Market and Light Up a Life and fundraising stands for Marymount. Marymount’s Light Up a Life appeal aims to raise much-needed funds for the Cork hospice which needs to raise €3.5million each year to sustain its current level of services. Marymount is calling on people to continue to support its appeal throughout December and make a dedication online to a loved one at https://lightupalife.marymount.ie.
The day was made even more special by the announcement of the car raffle winner – the ticket which Donncha pulled and Bibi read out.
The winner of the Marymount car raffle, a campaign which has been ongoing since May 2019 to win a Toyota Hybrid car, is The Walsh and Birchall family from Co Wicklow c/o Margaret Birchall.
Margaret’s brother Frank Walsh passed away in Marymount in the Summer of 2019, having been under the care of Marymount for nearly two months. Frank was originally from Wicklow but had lived in Cork for the past 35 years. He had a close knit family with seven siblings, the majority of whom still live in Wicklow including his sister Margaret. On the day of Frank’s passing, Margaret, her daughter Erica Frank’s niece, Margaret’s husband and his brothers were packing up his belongings from his room in Marymount. They came across some loose change of Frank, debated whether to put it towards their lunch but decided instead, in Frank’s honour, a man who liked an occasional bet, to buy some car raffle tickets at reception as they were leaving. Naturally distracted on the day that was in it, they wrote scant address details and an old phone number.
The Walsh and Birchall family decided to get together once again in Marymount for the Light Up a Life ceremony on 1st December as a way to remember their much missed Frank. While being back in Marymount had poignant and sad moments, they were also enjoying the day, the atmosphere and being back in the community of Marymount. They made it outside in time to see Bibi and Donncha turn on the lights, however, the crowds for the outdoor lighting ceremony were so large they missed the announcement from Bibi and Donncha about the car winner. They were informed by staff they had come to know that it was people from Co Wicklow and joked that it must have been them but they didn’t for one second believe it.
After the event was over the fundraising team tried to ring the number on the ticket but the phone number was out of service. They resolved that they would sort it out the next day – and in any event if they couldn’t get in touch after a certain amount of time, a second ticket had been selected by Donncha for this specific reason – in case it was impossible to get through to the winner.
Later that night while updating Marymount’s social media head of fundraising and communications Paula McGovern came across some beautiful family images of the day of Marymount’s lit Christmas Tree on Instagram and got in touch with the Instagram user to ask if she could use them on Marymount’s own social media. Paula could remember herself and Sarah McCloskey CEO watching the beautiful photo set up at the foot of the Marymount tree, just inches away from the newly won car. As she was scrolling through the images, Paula noticed the profile user was Erica Birchall from Wicklow. Could this be? A few DMs later, a few identity checks made and a phonecall was made to the Birchall family as they made their way home to Wicklow from the Light up a life event in Cork to let them know that they were the winner of the 2020 Toyota Auris Car. A huge cheer went up in the car just off the N8.
“That phone call in the car was just one of the funniest things and so exciting for us all,” explains Margaret. “We were in and out of Marymount so often in the summer and we bought so many tickets at so many times as a way to give something back. We are so delighted though that the winning ticket was bought by Frank’s money himself. How it all happened and came to pass – the fact that we bought the tickets from his change and all the near-misses with numbers and social media – Frank would have loved all of the craic and it really felt he was with us in the moment and it has made it so special. Christmas is a tough time of year and we really miss him. This has given us all a huge lift.”
To continue to support Marymount please make a dedication to a loved and sponsor a light on our online tree at: https://lightupalife.marymount.ie.