Third Age chocolate booty
Posted on 7th April 2021
When Third Age administrator Rosemary Doyle approached St. Nicholas' Primary School, Longwood to ask if they would like to make Easter cards for members of Third Age, Summerhill, she had an enthusiastic response from the two 5th Class teachers, Vinnie Byrne and Fiona Finn. ‘We were in lockdown at the time so it was a lovely project to interest them in. We talked about how many older people are on their own and maybe lonely, and while we also are restricted with 5K, we have our family around us. We find that children only need is a little trigger, and their ideas can be as good as many adults in helping those in need’, said Vinnie Byrne.
The school supplied a few Easter card samples, and some illustrations, explained that the children wouldn’t know the name of the person to receive their card but they could write their own personal message. ‘Some of the messages were great. They said funny things such as ‘I hope the Easter bunny visits and brings lots of chocolate’. Others hoped that the older person did not feel too lonely and was not missing their family too much’, said Vinny.
The classes have just finished reading and discussing ‘The Boy, The Mole, The Fox, and The Horse’ by Charlie Mackesy. For children of all ages, this best-seller helps each one of us know our own value, the strength in community, the meaning of compassion, and the power of kindness: ‘Essentially it helps you know you are loved’ said Vinny. ‘I would clap for the front line, but also need to say that children are some of those who understand least what has been going on and are the most tolerant and patient, and I would have nothing but praise for them. The cards are a way for us to connect with the local community, and as often with children, we just lit the candle and they fanned the flames and created a big fire’, he said.
Third Age looks after members from as far afield as Clonard, Dublin, Enfield, Johnstownbridge. Kildalkey, Killyon, Kilmessan, Longwood, Lucan, Moynalvey, Rathmolyon, Summerhill, and Trim, and staff are delivering Easter Eggs, donated by Supervalu, Trim along with the cards to 80 older members unable to come to the centre for over a year. 83 year old Tom Holmes grew up in Summerhill and lived as an actor in London for 57 years. He received his chocolate booty from administrator Maeve Carton: ‘It is a lovely thought. Third Age has been very good to me and I miss it very much these days. I left Ireland as a young man and it was a wonderful thing for me to return home after a great life. I retain strong links with film, music, and the arts. I have a 1,700 film collection, and I miss the bus collecting me on Mondays and bringing me to Third Age to present a film show to members. Hopefully, we can start up again and meet in person soon, he said.
For Margaret, Cathy, and Sheila Bagnall, Rathmolyon, membership is a family affair, with daughter Sheila getting involved first to help out in the office. Daughter Cathy is the youngest member of Third Age and she particularly enjoys the outings organised by the centre. These are obviously not currently happening, says mother Margaret Bagnall who has also benefited from Third Age: ‘I did a course there on the laptop, I also enjoyed the poetry readings, and I go to all the meetings to find out what is going on and note anything that would interest me. Joining Third Age is a great way of making friends, particularly for people who don’t have their own transport, the Third Age bus picks you up, she said. Margaret is President of the Rathmoylon ICA Guild and looks forward to the opening of both guild and Summerhill when friends can meet, keep fit classes can begin again and normal community life can resume.
Breda and Gerry Tuomey, Clonard, are both retired teachers, and as well as paying tribute to Supervalu for their generous gesture, they feel that the opportunity for the Longwood pupils to learn about older people is valuable: ‘Linking children up with the older generation is very important. It is a lovely connection’ says Breda. When initially confined to home during Covid last year, Breda walked around the perimeter of her garden ‘380 steps, I did it 10 or 12 times a day. But now Covid has gone on and on, and we are a year older and we wonder how many summers or winters we have to enjoy. We are luckier than most because our family is all around and they are extremely good and kind to us’ she said. The couple have been members of Third Age for 17 years, recommended to join by their GP. ‘I still remember the welcome we got when we went as two strangers. There were some events we couldn’t attend, but when we came back we still got that warm welcome. Maeve Carton and Rosemary Doyle are very kind, two marvelous women, and I am very grateful for the way they keep in touch. Rosemary is our link. She phones constantly and she is a listener – a rare quality these days.
Rosemary Doyle enjoys the contact with members these days: ‘It has been a great privilege to be kept in touch with many members. I phone 65 people each week. The relationship has deepened during Covid and now members phone me as well. We help each other, I could feel down and one of our members lifts me, Covid has brought me closer to all our members Also, we were contacted by some nursing homes and asked if we would begin making contact with their residents. So now Maeve phones 20 people each week, new relationships have been formed, and we are so glad to be of service in this way’, she said.