A Westmeath organic farmer is chairing a campaign to raise €1 million for a level three hospice for the midlands.
Pat Lalor, head of Kilbeggan Organic Foods, is working with Lions Club members to raise funds for the midland region, which is now the only area in Ireland not to have a level three regional hospice.
“The funding model that has been used everywhere else in the country involves the hospice building costs being met by the local community, and the ongoing service costs being met by the HSE,” said Mr Lalor.
“The costs involved are significant, and it is estimated that a 15-bed unit would cost in the region of €14 million.”
The cereal and beef farmer said members of the community who need full-time, specialised, end-of-life care have no choice but to travel to Dublin, Limerick or Galway.
“This imposes an additional stressful burden on family members who must frequently travel long distances to visit their loved ones. There are currently a number of smaller community care units in the region which do a fantastic job, but level three care is another step-up which should be available in every region,” he added.
Hooves 4 Hospice’s fundraising drive launched in January last year and involves inviting farmers to donate an animal to the project. When the animal is sold, the proceeds are lodged in the Hooves 4 Hospice bank account, managed by Tullamore Lions Club.
Farmers have the choice; they can donate and rear their own animal; donate an animal for another farmer to rear it; rear an animal provided by the committee; or make a donation.
To date 468 animals have been committed to the project. Some of the animals have begun to be sold and are averaging a sale price in excess of €1,300 each. Local marts and meat processors are also supporting achieving top prices.