The beaming smiles said it all. As the spade turned the sod on the new Circle of Friends Centre in Tipperary Town last March its founder Jennifer Jones Hickey could look back on a few short years when a seed developed into something of a movement.
Jennifer was inspired to set up the support group after she received treatment for cancer and now the construction of a purpose-built building is well under way.
“The centre allows us to try and take care of people who are suffering and their families. We offer therapies such as counselling, reflexology, reiki, acupuncture, Indian Head massage and so much more. But most of all we offer a place to come and talk. For many people that’s the kind of support they need and are seeking above anything else,” she said.
And Jennifer feels support services for those diagnosed with cancer and their families is too centralised. It’s another reason why she decided to establish Circle of Friends.
“Unless you’re living in a city it’s so very was difficult to know where to go for help. For people in rural parts of the county it could take hours to get to such a centre and I felt something needed to be done about that. So when I could I started the ball rolling and now its developed into a movement.”
The centre has welcomed people from South Tipperary, East Limerick, North Cork and beyond.
The National Lottery provided €120,000 towards the cost of the new centre which its hoped will be completed by April of next year.
“The new centre is designed to capture as much light as possible and provide space for people to be together or have treatments in peace on their own,” explains Jennifer.
She added: “The dedication and commitment of volunteers has been amazing over the last few years. And we have recycled help in that people who came to us in the past and are now better are giving their time and energy to help others diagnosed with cancer. It’s truly inspiring and we’re grateful for any support we can get.”
Approximately 30 cent of every €1 spent on National Lottery games go back to funding for Good Causes in the areas of sport, youth, health, welfare, education, arts and heritage. In total, more than €5 Billion has been raised for Good Causes since the National Lottery was established 30 years ago. In 2016 alone, the National Lottery raised over €210 million for such good causes.