Above: Back l-r: Eileen O'Donovan (Bandon Branch), Pat Fitzgerald (Bandon Branch), Barry O'Donovan National Sect., Pat Carey National Chairperson, Karen Conway ADU, Ted Noonan RDU, John Joe Lyons ADU. Front l-r: Sheila Callan National Treasurer, Brendan O'Reilly, Bernie O'Reilly, Pat O'Conor Cork Area Chairman, Maire McSweeney Area Health & Social Care Officer. Pic: Jonathan Tyner
The ‘Leslie Bean de Barra Red Cross Carer of the Year’ award acknowledges the hard work and dedication of informal carers in the home and the community. This year it has been presented to Bernie O’Reilly, nominated by Bandon Red Cross branch.
Bernie has been a full time carer for her 28-year-old son Brendan for many years. Brendan is wheelchair bound and can only communicate through a computer screen activated by eye movement. Bernie attends to Brendan’s every need 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Her positive attitude, energy and her attention brings Brendan great happiness and he has a constant smile on his face. Bernie regards her caring of Brendan as a labour of love.
Earlier this year Bernie was presented with the 2015 Eileen Hayes Perpetual Memorial Trophy in Bandon.
The other finalist for this Carer of the Year award was John Barry, nominated by the Mallow branch, who has been caring full time for his sister Maura for the past five years. Maura has been wheelchair bound since 2010 and spent some time in a nursing home before John – who worked in Mallow Hospital – decided to resign his position and care for his sister full-time in their own home. Again he attends to her every need seven days a week; indeed John and Maura are seen regularly on the streets of Mallow where they stop and have a chat with people as they go about their shopping. This brings great joy to Maura as she meets her many friends regularly.
The Cork Area Committee of the Irish Red Cross presents this trophy in remembrance of Leslie Bean de Barra, who was Chairperson of the Irish Red Cross from 1950 – 1973. Leslie received several prestigious awards for her outstanding work nationally and internationally. She initiated and chaired the ‘Freedom from Hunger’ Campaign and tirelessly encouraged people to be good neighbours and to look out for the vulnerable of all ages in society.