Tulip festival to help raise funds for families

FAMILIES eager to enjoy the sunshine and raise funds for severely ill children at the same time are being encouraged to visit an unique event in Wicklow this weekend.

Up to 10,000 tulips have been planted on the grounds of the Powerscourt Hotel, in Enniskerry, while another 3,000 cut tulips will be sold to help fund resources for children with brain damage.

The tulip festival was launched yesterday with 10% of proceeds going to the Jack & Jill Children’s Foundation.

The charity’s communication director Carmel Doyle said: “The foundation only gets 19% of its funding from the state so a fundraiser like this is so important for us. Some of our families will come down on the weekend and there’ll be a nurse there for them so they’ll enjoy the tulips as much as everybody else.”

The foundation supports more than 300 families in Ireland with home nursing care for children with brain damage who have suffered severe intellectual and physical development delay.

Thousands of multi- coloured tulips were lifted from trucks onto the Ritz-Carlton Hotel grounds yesterday, with broadcaster Miriam O’Callaghan and Lily O’Brien – the daughter of the charity’s founders – also there for the launch.

Commenting on the festival Max Zanardi, general manager of The Ritz- Carlton, Powerscourt, said: “The hotel was delighted to be chosen to host this festival and receive such a large number of tulip bulbs which were planted last year.”

The Jack & Jill Children’s Foundation was set up in 1997 by Jonathan Irwin and his wife MaryAnn O’Brien to help young children who are born with or develop brain damage be cared for at home. They set up the foundation based on their own experience with their son Jack whose short life showed them the ideal way in which children could be nursed at home.

Two days after he was born, he suffered trauma while in hospital and was left brain damaged, leaving him unable to swallow and both blind and deaf. Jack’s parents were told he would need constant care and he lived for 22 months on a mix of drugs and physio, while having seizures, operations and other treatment.

Over the last 13 years, the foundation has helped more than 1,200 children and their families, with home visits, advice, information, funding, lobbying and bereavement support.

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