By Gordon Deegan
A County Laois woman has bequeathed a total of €30m to five charities in a massive windfall for the charity sector, it has emerged.
One of those to receive an equal €6m bequest is the Irish Cancer Society (ICS) and the donation is the single largest donation ever received by the ICS.
Today, the ICS identified Mrs Elizabeth O’Kelly from Stradbally, Co. Laois as the donor and the €6m donation represents the income of two annual Daffodil Days for the ICS.
The ICS said today that Mrs O’Kelly’s “kindness and generosity is reflected in her decision to leave equal amounts in her will to five charities”.
This represents a €30m windfall from Mrs O’Kelly for the ICS and the four other charities and according to the ICS annual financial statement, “the society is current investigating a number of high impact and transformational projects in which the bequeathed funds will be invested".
Mrs O’Kelly died in her 93rd year in December 2016 - Mrs O’Kelly was a shareholder in Clylim Properties which has extensive property interests in Dublin while it has been reported previously that Mrs O’Kelly made around €30m from the sale of the Leinster Leader Ltd in 2005.
A statement from the ICS today stated: “We are deeply grateful to Mrs Elizabeth O’Kelly for generously remembering people with cancer in her will. Her generosity will provide hope to so many people affected by cancer and deliver improvements in cancer care that would have been impossible otherwise.
The ICS added that “Mrs. O’Kelly successfully battled cancer in the 1980s. She knew first-hand the challenges cancer patients face and the positive difference the Irish Cancer Society makes to them in their time of need.
“In the 1980s, when Mrs O’Kelly was diagnosed with cancer, only three out of ten Irish cancer patients survived. Today, six out of ten do. This is thanks in no small part to the generosity of the Irish public in supporting the Irish Cancer Society’s lifesaving research, advocacy and patient support services.”
The spokeswoman added: “The Irish Cancer Society won’t give up until Ireland’s cancer services are truly world-class and every patient has the best possible chance of surviving and thriving after a cancer diagnosis. We won’t settle for anything less and we know Mrs O’Kelly would not want us to.”
The ICS stated that “we cannot deliver truly world-class cancer services in Ireland without far greater investment in research and transformational projects. The scale of the challenge in cancer prevention, treatment and support is simply too great”.
Only 2% of the ICS’s income comes from the State and the €6m windfall for the society contributed to the society’s income increasing by 18% to €26.8m last year.
The society's expenditure totalled €20.32m resulting in a surplus of €6.5m for the year - compared to a surplus of €1.65m in 2016.
The accounts show that last year the Irish Cancer Society last year generated €3.13m through Daffodil Day and a further €9.55m from ‘Events, Corporate Initiatives and Direct Marketing’.
The Society’s network of shops generated €3.78m in revenues and created a profit of €813,000 after shop costs of €2.97m are taken into account.
Numbers employed by the society last year increased from 142 to 148. The society also employs night nurses to provide free end of life care in patients’ homes.
In 2017, over 180 nurses were employed on a seasonal basis based on demand with an average of 72 nurses working per week.
Staff costs in 2017 increased from €7m to €7.2m while night nursing salaries amounted to an additional €2.735m.
Former senator, Averil Power was appointed as chief executive of the ICS in January of this year.
The ICS stated today that Ms Power is paid an annual salary of €125,000 and this is a reduction of €20,000 on what was paid to the CEO in 2015.
Due to the requirement for extensive work-related travel, including weekends, Ms Power receives a car allowance of €10,000 per annum and the Society also contributes 15% of salary to her Defined Contribution pension.