There was relief this evening in Limavady for families whose loved ones call Thackeray Place their home.
Within hours of the ‘Derry Journal’ breaking the news on Tuesday, staff, residents, their families and local councillors mobilised a campaign to ‘Save Thackeray’ from closure.
Tonight, they know the threat of closure isn’t completely gone, but described the announcement by Health Minister Edwin Poots halting the closure process, as “fantastic”.
No-one is more happy than 85-year-old Peggy Heaney who yesterday recorded a video message on the Derry Journal website directly appealing to Minister Poots to step in. Leading the way on behalf of residents earlier this week, Peggy - who joined workers protesting outside Thackeray Place residential care home - spoke of her relief.
“Somebody had to speak for the residents,” she said. “I am more than happy about the news, surely to God, but we still have to fight on. We can’t stop now because we don’t know what’s in front of us. I wasn’t hopeful until I heard what Mr. Poots had to say this evening, but now I am hopeful we can win this, so that’s why we need to fight on.”
Peggy’s grandson, Aaron said he rushed to see his grandma as soon as he heard the announcement.
“It’s definitely better news than we had at the start of the week, and it has put a smile on people’s faces,” said Aaron, “but we’ll still have the rally tomorrow to keep the fight going.”
Staff at the Limavady care home also feel some relief, and are happy Minister Poots has taken control of the situation.
“We are delighted, but we still have to keep fighting until we get the news we are staying open,” one worker told the ‘Journal’.
Other familes are optimistic for Thackeray’s future.
“It’s just great,” said Liz McPeak, whose mum Aileen Hunter, aged 83, lives at Thackeray.
As soon as she heard the news, she rushed to see her mum, and was greeted with great relief among residents and staff.
“The fight will still go on, and we won’t stop now to just see what happens. It’s hard to believe, but we just hope it all works out,” said Liz. “The support has been brilliant in Limavady from the staff, residents, all the families and local politicians. Everyone has been brilliant. We think Thackeray is in a strong position and we are hopeful. It’s fantastic.”
Josie McCann’s mum, Letty is 99 and a resident of Thackeray.
“I was delighted to hear the news,” she told the ‘Journal’. “Mr. Poots definitely put on his listening ears, and there is no doubt people power made a difference.”
Like the others, Mrs. McCann says the campaign to ‘Save Thackeray’ must continue. She hopes tomorrow’s rally outside Thackeray will attract a strong crowd.
“At the end of the day Mr. Poots is in his position to represent the views of the people, and he must listen to the voice of the people,” she said. “The Western Trust handled the situation very badly, and this news today has lifted a fair bit of the cloud off us, but the fight continues.”
DUP councillor Alan Robinson, who has been vocal during the campaign in Limavady along with MLA George Robinson, told the ‘Journal’ he is hopeful in so far that Thackeray meets the criteria as laid out in “Transforming Your Care”.
“I am also very pleased it’s been taken off the hands of the Trust who stepped way beyond the line. They were given an inch and have taken a mile and have now been taken to task by Edwin Poots, but the fight continues,” he said, adding: “We will not rest on our laurels.”
The rally is set for 2pm tomorrow outside Thackeray Place on Ballyclose Street. A chance to sign the petition will also be available from 11am at Hunters Bakery on Market Street.
The ‘Journal’ will have full coverage of the rally in Tuesday’s Roe Valley edition.