by Kate Crowley, PRO Jeep for Jason
On January 17, RTE’s Paschal Sheehy, on behalf of the people of West Cork, presented the much-anticipated ‘Jeep for Jason’ to Dr. Jason van der Velde.
This historic occasion, in the quiet, rural village of Ballinascarthy, was very special, as nearly 2,500 people attended to view the jeep and celebrate its launch. Ballinascarthy locals did not disappoint the crowd, with a very well organised and yet simple event, where everybody was warmly welcomed by the Ballinascarthy Community Association, who coordinated the fundraising for the new emergency response vehicle.
A slide show gave visitors an overview of the 82 events throughout West Cork that were held to raise funds while Dr. Jason himself explained the extra medical equipment on board the new Ford Ranger Wildtrac, which has been named ‘Spiorad Iarthar Chorcaí’ in honour of the outstanding spirit of West Cork.
The customary ‘cupán tae’ was served by the many helpers of the Ballinascarthy Hall Committee. Parking and traffic control was coordinated by Niall Twomey who had 30 stewards at the ready. Jerry Calnan provided the marquee, generators and mobile toilets and his help was very much appreciated.
Many people that Dr. Jason had saved over the years came to wish him well, take photographs and be a part of the launch night. You could hear a pin drop in the packed hall when Paschal Sheehy played an eight-minute clip of Dr. Jason’s work that had previously appeared on RTE News. It featured local girl Louise Kingston and her baby Sophie Kissane, as well as Noah Ruprecht from Courtmacsherry.
Leo Meade, chairman of the fundraising committee thanked everyone for their support and kindness. JJ Walsh read out a letter of congratulations from President Higgins, while Ned O’Flynn, treasurer, gave the stunning news that a total of €144,500 was raised for the jeep; the balance will be kept for future upkeep of the jeep.
As Paschal Sheehy handed over the keys of the jeep to Dr. Jason, he reiterated how fortunate we are to have a medic of his calibre in our midst.
In Dr Jason’s acceptance speech, much of which was ‘as Gaeilge’, he said it was the “meitheal” effect that made the project such a fantastic success.
County Mayor Alan Coleman wished Dr. Jason well and Bishop Buckley blessed the jeep with Rev Daniel Owens, Rev Denis Maguire and Monsignor Leonard O’Brien in attendance.
Patricia Messenger presented a bouquet of flowers to Dr. Jason’s wife Kirsten and paid glowing tribute to the people of West Cork. West Cork Rapid Response chairman Aodh O’Donnell thanked the people of Ballinascarthy and further afield for their generousity and Eamonn Barry gave a brief outline on the fit-out required to convert the jeep to an emergency response vehicle.
Flowers were also presented to Betty Hennessy and Kate Crowley who then cut the miniature ‘Jeep for Jason’ cake, beautifully created by Marie O’Donovan in Bandon.
The outpouring of goodwill towards the project from start to finish was breathtaking and great credit is due to the good people of West Cork who made this good news story for themselves, what better way for a community to come together for the good of each other.