Christmas Message from LauraLynn

As the year draws to a close, we have an opportunity to reflect on and celebrate the many achievements and events at LauraLynn this year. 2018 was a very special year. We were delighted, in April, to welcome our new CEO Orla O’Brien to lead the team in developing an exciting new Strategic Plan that will guide our growth over the coming years. We are grateful to the many stakeholders and professionals that provided us with valuable input to the strategy, which will be launched early next year. So check back then, as it will be available on our website.

Our services were busier than ever this year, offering greater range, reach and choice to families who need us. LauraLynn continues to be the only children’s hospice in the state and this year almost 250 children and families from 23 counties received direct care, symptom management, family supports, end-of-life and bereavement care services.

Our disability services, delivered on behalf of the HSE to children and adults with complex disabilities and high medical needs in the Dublin area, received a very positive report following our HIQA inspection earlier this year and we recently received confirmation of our re-registration as an authorised service provider in 2019.

We’re also very proud of our education and research achievements this year. Our second Open Day for Healthcare Professionals was attended by more than 150 healthcare professionals from across children’s acute and community services and focussed on ‘Conundrums in complex cases – difficult symptoms, difficult communication’ in the specialised area of Paediatric Palliative Care. Our presence at national and international conferences exceeded 20 presentations and posters; and in November we announced a 3-year research partnership with the UCD School of Psychology, which aims to develop teaching and research practices in paediatric palliative care.

Our children’s hospice service depends largely on the generosity of individuals, organisations and companies for operational funding. This year was a challenging year as we strove to reach our increased fundraising target. We are so grateful to our corporate partners and business supporters for their loyal and generous support during the year, in the form of financial, in-kind and time donations.

Community fundraising was outstanding; with people of all ages from across the island of Ireland using their energy and creativity to raise funds for our special cause. It is through all of this support that we could provide our hospice care and some very special moments to our families and for that we, along with all of the LauraLynn staff, wish to extend our gratitude.

Here’s a flavour of what we got up to this year with your help…

In March we held our third Oscars ceremony. Eight families wrote, produced and starred in their very own short film with the help of industry professionals. The eight films were premiered at an exclusive gala event, MC’d by Baz Ashmawy, featuring a limousine and red carpet arrival, screaming fans and an invite-only audience. The ceremony concluded with each movie receiving its very own ‘LauraLynn Oscar’, presented by 2FM radio presenter Tracy Clifford.

Our 3rd Heroes Ball, was hosted by Miriam O’Callaghan, with able assistance from Barry Murphy for the charity auction. Donors and supporters joined together to raise much needed funds for our charity. Planning for next year is already in full swing so make sure to save the date – April 27th 2019.

In May we held a one-time-only performance of ‘The Much More Magnificent Seven’ in The Abbey Theatre, in collaboration with the National Concert Hall and the National Gallery of Ireland. Storyteller Paul Timoney created a tale of action and adventure which saw seven of our LauraLynn children take to the stage and join the annals of ‘Abbey Actors’. The production was then brought to life in a National Gallery of Ireland exhibition – ‘The Much More Magnificent Seven – LauraLynn at The Abbey Theatre’ – which will run from 4th December to 6th January 2019.

Children’s Hospice Week focussed on the heroic efforts of the children and families who avail of our hospice. The week-long programme of fundraising and family activities culminated in a live telethon with Ireland AM where we raised over €50,000 during the show! We want to thank Alan Hughes, the Ireland AM viewers and all the team in Virgin Media for their support. We are also grateful to our supporters on the day including: Paul Howard, Bryan Murray and Una Crawford O’Brien as well as Isa Nacewa, the Bootleg Beach Boys and Arctic Stone.

Our annual Light Up LauraLynn celebration in late November was as special as ever, with a packed house of families, staff and supporters taking time out to remember loved ones on our Memory Tree. The Christmas season was kicked off with festive treats, seasonal games and magical lights and fireworks display. Thank you to our MC Ray D’Arcy and the wonderful choirs, entertainers and suppliers involved.

We enjoyed meeting some very special guests this year including: Niall Horan, Marissa Carter, Martin O’Neill, Lyra, and members of the Ireland Ladies Rugby Team, as well as Leinster and Irish Rugby stars including Garry Ringrose, James Tracey, James Ryan, Nick McCarthy, Rory O’Loughlin and bloggers Rosie Connolly and Grace Mongey.

Trust in the charity sector has been damaged in recent years but thankfully the generosity of our supporters has prevailed throughout. Your trust in LauraLynn is so important to us and we continue make every effort to be open and transparent in what we do. From our Triple Lock system, to the publishing of our annual reports, we endeavour to keep you informed about how we raise and spend our money. You can view our recently published 2017 Annual Report here.

2019 will be another busy year for LauraLynn as we launch and commence implementation of our new Strategic Plan 2019-2023. Increasing demand for services will bring additional challenges for funding, however we continue to be humbled by the tireless efforts of our many supporters who give so generously to support us.

We are thinking particularly about the children who passed away during the course 2018, their families and all bereaved families. And we would like to pay tribute to the LauraLynn families who helped with our awareness and fundraising efforts this year. Thank you!

Lastly, it’s our privilege, on behalf of our children, families, staff and Board members, to wish you and your loved ones a very happy and peaceful Christmas season. We remain indebted to you for your continued support of our special hospice and look forward to making 2019 another year of great progress for LauraLynn.

Niall McHugh, Chairman and Orla O’Brien, CEO

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