Navy’s €7k cheque for Donal Walsh charity

The 10 men who graduated as the navy’s newest officers yesterday handed over a cheque for more than €7,000 to a charity set up to prevent suicide among young people.

Navy’s €7k cheque for Donal Walsh charity

The parents of Donal Walsh, 16, who died of cancer last year were invited to the commissioning ceremony at the naval base where they accepted the cheque on behalf of the foundation they started in his memory.

Before he died, Donal from Blennerville, Co Kerry spoke about how young people in good health should value their lives.

His parents, Fionnbar and Elma, said they were delighted to accept the money from the young officers who raised it by undertaking a gruelling 132km route march with full pack through the Wicklow Way.

“It was an incredible achievement. They also held race nights and collections for us,” Fionnbar said.

To date, donations of €220,000 have been made to the foundation.

“We have given €80,000 to Tralee Hospice for teenage-appropriate facilities. We have helped Console open teenage counselling rooms in Tralee, Limerick and Galway and we hope to roll this out throughout the country,” Fionnbar said.

The foundation has also given money to Pieta House in Cork and Kare4Kids, which runs a support service for families of terminally or seriously ill children out of Tralee.

“To date, we have handed over around €160,000 to these organisations and needless to say, the donation we got from the young officers is truly welcome.”

The men, who started training in September 2012, also did the Cobh 10-mile road race and Bantry half- marathon in aid of the Mater Hospital Heart and Lung Unit.

Despite getting their ceremonial swords yesterday the men still have a bit to do. They will complete a further two years of academic studies at the National Maritime College of Ireland (NMCI) before being awarded a Bachelor of Science in Nautical Science.

This will lead them onto their final naval watchkeeping exams, as part of an integrated level 8 honours degree to fully qualify them to fill appointments on ships as officers of the operations branch. Those who are engineers will continue their training with college courses.

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