Glenshane Care Centre is back on the road.
The community and charitable group in Dungiven was without a bus for more than a year, leaving members who attend the Centre up to three times a week dependent on lifts.
For people like Mary Hunter from Feeny the Centre is a “lifeline”. Mary, aged 73, is in a wheelchair. She said without the Centre, and the friends she has there, life would be lonely.
“It’s a lifeline,” Mary told the ‘Journal’. “I wouldn’t be able to get out of the house if it wasn’t for the Centre and the bus picking me up.”
When the Centre’s second-hand bus finally went off the road, just before Christmas 2014, it was a blow for members, including Mary, their families and carers.
“During this time the members could not get out and about on trips or activities outside the Centre,” said Centre manager, Amanda Kelly.
Thanks to a massive fundraising effort by committee members, and support from the community, the Centre raised enough money to secure a new set of wheels.
“The patience and support of members, family and carers, was integral to buying this brand new bus,” said Amanda.
“Without their efforts to bring in their loved ones themselves, working together to find solutions, all the money raised would have disappeared on buying in transport.”
Fundraising for the new minibus was launched by the Fundraising Committee with a Summer Fun Day August 2014, followed by a Johnny Brady Concert and Cycle Sportive in 2015, alongside various other fundraising initiatives over the year.
The Centre also received funding from the Clothworkers Foundation alongside money from the Dungiven Parish.
“Getting this new bus is an incredible achievement, particularly in these austere times and everyone involved should be praised and feel very proud of their efforts,” said Amanda.
Mary Hunter agrees. “I haven’t been for a year, other than an event at Christmas, and I really missed it. It really is a lifeline. We’ve been waiting on the bus for a long time, but it has been worth waiting on. It is wonderful to get the bus back,” said Mary. “I’m just so happy.”
Dungiven woman, Margaret Muncey, said: “You would think we’d won the lottery we’re so happy.”
Margaret had a stroke in 2004, and was left with limited power down her right side and uses a walking stick. She attends Glenshane Care Centre three times a week and says she would be lost without it.
“I love the social aspect of it. When we didn’t have the bus I had to get lifts, so it’s great having a new bus,” said Margaret.
Julie McGlinchey, aged 57, was diagnosed with Motor Neurone disease 25 years ago and has been attending Glenshane Care for 16 years.
“It means everything to me,” said Julie, “I’m very happy we have a new bus because I had to depend on lifts before to get here when we had no bus. I want to say ‘well done’ to everyone who helped us, and ‘thank you’”
Annemarie Convery, chairperson of the fundraising committee, said the wait for the bus was worth it.
“We are just delighted to be back on the road,” said Annemarie,” and we want to thank everyone for their help, patience and support. Everyone worked so hard to get to this point, but it has been worth the wait.”
Amanda Kelly praised all members of the committee who are volunteers, as are the board of directors.
“They are incredible people who have put in a lot of their own time and effort to make the new bus a reality.
“Many other donations and fundraising initiatives came in from the local community and the Centre is hugely appreciative, of the many kind, supportive acts of generosity over the year,” said Amanda.
“I can’t list them all for fear of leaving someone out, there were just so many people and organisations who came forward to support us.
“We are planning to have a proper celebration with the opening of the Centre gardens in March 2016 to thank everyone who made this achievement possible.
“So, look out for Glenshane Care; we’re back on the road and raring to go.”