Students from Happy Days Preschool have taken such a shine to the elderly occupants in Ratoath Manor Nursing Home that they were behind a campaign to persuade Met Eirean to name a storm for the upcoming season after one of the much loved pensioners.
The 'Name our Storms' campaign launched by Met Eireann and the UK Met Office captured the imagination of the students who begged their teacher to enter eighty seven-year-old Kitty Quirke who has dementia into the competition.
Their plight was successful and 'Storm Kitty' is due to hit our shores this winter.
“Met Eireann put a call out looking for suggestions for names for upcoming storms. I was telling the children this and they asked me to send in Kitty's name so we did and it got picked so one of the storms that will come will be called Storm Kitty.
“We just hope it won't cause too much destruction! There were only 21 names picked which is amazing.
The preschool have struck up an unlikely friendship with residents of a nearby nursing home with teacher Eilish Balfe describing the visits as the highlight of their week.
A chorus of nursery rhymes isn’t what you expect to hear on walking into an elderly people’s home but that's exactly what you'll hear every week in Ratoath.
“We bring toys and we make playdough and sing. Sometimes they just sit and chat”
Eilish says that the lack of a filter in children also helps to open up difficult conversations.
“They will ask the questions that you or I won't ask like, why are you sick? why are you bald?
“When my dad passed away one of the children came in and said did your dad go to heaven last night and I said yeah he did and he said well I'm glad because he was sick.
“Two weeks later he asked me if I was getting a new dad!
“One day Kitty wasn't in her chair and the staff told the children that she was having a bath and they couldn't believe that there was a bath there. I told them that they sleep here and that there are bedrooms, they thought that it was a Montessori for older people.
That was another conversation about how they live there and their families come to visit.
“The atmosphere changes when we come in, you can feel it changing, the mood lifts with the children's laughter and their silliness, they don't experience that every single day.”