A family touched by tragedy hopes to help get Ireland’s first doctor-led air ambulance service in the air.
The Beamish family from West Cork, who lost a son and brother in a workplace accident in Clonakilty last year, have donated almost €12,000 raised in his memory to the Munster flying doctor project.
Nollaig Beamish said they hope that something positive will come from their nightmare: “If this type of accident were to happen again, and if this kind of air ambulance service was in place, it would be of huge benefit to the people of West Cork.”
Her youngest brother, Fearghal, 26, from Ardfield, suffered fatal injuries in a workplace accident in Clóna Dairies in Clonakilty on July 14, 2015.
Paramedic Martin Haughney, who lives locally, was first on the scene, but despite the best efforts of medics, Fearghal died.
Nollaig said her family — dad John, brother Gearoid and sister Eimear were devastated. Her mother, Marion, died 16 years ago.
She described Fearghal as a keen sportsman, who loved playing football with St James’s GAA, cycling, road bowling and motorsport. She said he was a “very positive person, bubbly and witty” who is deeply missed.
But she said: “He wouldn’t want us sitting back and not turning this into something positive.”
The family wanted to mark the first anniversary of his death last summer with something meaningful, and decided to stage a fundraising event as part of the Ardfield Summer Festival.
Following consultation with family and friends, they opted to stage a fundraising walk, run and cycle. Organisers were expecting up to 300 people but Ms Beamish said the family was stunned when almost 1,000 people from all over Munster took part, raising almost €12,000.
Mr Haughney suggested the family consider donating the money to the new Irish Community Air Ambulance service — a major expansion of the ground-based Irish Community Rapid Response service established in West Cork in 2009.
Ms Beamish said it felt like the perfect suggestion: “Who knows — maybe if a service like this was in place when Fearghal had his accident, he might still be here today.”
It is hoped the service, which will serve almost one million people in Munster, will be airborne next spring.
Ms Beamish paid tribute to the community for their support with the event, and singled out Conor Hegarty for his efforts.
She said her family is considering staging the fundraising event in Fearghal’s memory every year.
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