Name: Mary Morrish
Occupation: Fundraising Officer,Marymount University Hospital & Hospice
Background: Ireland’s oldest hospice, it celebrates 150 years in 2020. Costing €20 million a year to run, Marymount needs to fundraise €3.5 million this year to continue providing its current level of service.
Mary Morrish readily agrees that everyone in Cork knows someone who has benefited from the care and support offered by Marymount University Hospital & Hospice.
“Our services touch a wide sector of the population, from relatives who may use our Care of the Elderly respite services, or our Community Palliative care nurses who treat people in their own homes across the length and breadth of County Cork.”
As the Specialist Palliative Care Centre for Cork and Kerry, serving a catchment area of 600,000 people, the legend of this much loved and universally admired institution covers a very wide geographical area.
“In one sense people already know about Marymount and the amazing work the team do, it’s my job to tell them all about our work in more detail so they have a greater understanding of how the money they raise by fundraising is used and why we need it. People are often surprised to hear that we are not fully State funded and we rely heavily on a minimum of €3.5 million by fundraising to sustain the work,” she adds.
Appointed November 2018, Mary had worked in administration for 15 years and during the recession began volunteering with the Irish Cancer Society and Cork Simon Community in fundraising roles.
Looking for a change of career, she spotted the job advertised in the Irish Examiner: “I couldn’t believe my luck that a job in my field had come up. I was used to working with a large fundraising team so it has been a big change for me but I really enjoy working so closely with the people of Cork who fundraise for Marymount — the passion in what they do is truly inspiring.”
Established in 1870, Marymount is the oldest and busiest hospice in the country and confronts major fundraising hurdles on an annual basis. Costing €20 million a year to run, it receives only 70% of this through government funding, with the remainder coming from fundraising.
“We are classified as a Section 39 entity, which means that we are outside of the HSE mainstream, meaning we need to raise €3.5 million in 2019 to continue to provide our current level of service. Many people are unaware of the constant financial struggle Marymount faces, and the last thing we want to do is cut any of our services at a time when they are most needed.”
Marymount provides the highest standards of palliative care service to the community and is fully integrated with the acute hospitals in the Cork area. However, until the level of public funding increases, it will continue to struggle financially.
“Over my relatively short time in Marymount I have been overwhelmed by the generosity of the people of Cork. Most of the people who help with our fundraising has had a family member or friend been in receipt of our care in one way or another. We are exceptionally grateful for all that they do.”
Fundraising for Marymount through its myriad and inventive methods cements volunteers into a worthy and commendable network dedicated to an admirable cause that touches the lives of many.
“When you fundraise for Marymount, you are making a huge impact on someone’s life. Your family might need our help, your friends our support, your community may need the help of our community.”
In 2011, Marymount moved to its state of the art building in Curraheen, which €6m capital debt requires an extra yearly servicing of €1m.
“If we could clear this debt in one go with some very large donations, be they philantrophic or corporate, it would have a massive impact on our capacity to maintain service levels and support new initiatives. It would also be an amazing way to celebrate our 150th anniversary of caring for people of Cork.”
While fortunate that Marymount is such a recognised brand, Mary and her colleagues are well aware of the other 8,500 registered charities in Ireland, many of which are supporting equally worthy causes.
“People have only so much to give, but the demand for our care is constantly increasing, and the last thing we want to consider doing is cutting any services at a time when they are needed the most,” remarked Mary. “We would prefer to be developing in line with the demands we see.”
Hospice care is a growing and complex need, and which is ably assisted by the many willing volunteers dedicated to the Marymount cause: “Our volunteers are so important, we currently have 252 helping us. This also includes the Friends of Marymount who support our fundraising department by holding events throughout the year.”
In addition, many large corporate firms use Marymount as part of their annual Corporate Social Responsibility programme. “We have a phrase we use out here — ‘Give an hour and see its power.’ Volunteering can be exceptionally rewarding and has a very positive effect on the patient, staff and on the volunteers themselves.”
Marymount has garnered the support of many famous personalities over the years — not least in 2018. “We have been extremely privileged to have been supported by high profile people such Roy Keane, the Miller family and the fantastic committee who organised the Liam Miller Testimonial Match last year. The support of the FAI and the players was invaluable to us.”
Roy Keane also supported Marymount’s annual ‘Light Up A Life’ event in December: “So many people turned out to see him — many of whom might not been out to Marymount before, and we love when people come out and see this special place for themselves.”
While Marymount in the past might for some have reflected a fearful connotation, it is a myth Mary Morrish and her colleagues work hard to dispel in 2019: “Despite living with a life limiting illness we aim to improve people’s quality of life and for families to make special memories. The public have largely supported what we have created and we welcome them back to see what a wonderful place Marymount is, where our residents and patients stay in a comfort and modern environment, suitable to meeting their complex needs.”
March 30: Mothers’ Day Afternoon Tea, Electric, South Mall
April 5: Friends of Marymount Lunch, Rochestown Park Hotel
May 10: Golf Classic, Cork Golf Club
May 23 to 25: 96FM Giving for Living Radiothon Coffee Morning
September 21: Inaugural West Cork Lunch, West Cork Hotel, Skibbereen