Elber Twomey, from North Cork, said she was completely overwhelmed by the response to her annual Twomey Family Remorial initiative, which she launched in the wake of her family tragedy. The proceeds from last month’s event topped €18,600, pushing the total raised over the last three years to €110,000.
“I’m just so thankful and grateful that something positive has come from my tragedy. I’m sure Connie, baba Oisín, and Little Lady are smiling down to see the way they are being remembered and honoured each year in our Twomey Family Remorial weekend and in our efforts to promote the reality of how precious life is,” said Ms Twomey.
She lost 16-month-old Oisín and her unborn daughter Elber Marie when a suicidal taxi driver drove head-on into their car as they returned from a family holiday in Devon in 2012.
The distressed driver, Marek Wojciechowski, who had left a suicide note at home, was being pursued by a police officer in a marked car moments before he swerved directly into the Twomeys’ car. Ms Twomey’s husband, Connie, suffered devastating injuries in the crash and died in Cork University Hospital 10 months later.
After recovering from severe injuries, Elber, her brother Tomas, and two of Connie’s closest friends, Thomas Mahoney and Gerard Angland, launched the Twomey Family Remorial weekend the following year to promote the reality of how precious life is and to raise awareness of mental health issues.
They set out to raise funds for the hospitals which cared for her family, for suicide support and mental health charities, and for Brú Columbanus near Cork University Hospital, which provides home-from-home accommodation for relatives of seriously ill patients.
Three remorial weekends, featuring sponsored cycles, fun runs, GAA matches, and table quizes, have taken place in Meelin and Rockchapel, north Cork, since 2014. More than 4,000 people have taken part, raising almost €110,000.
Charities including The 3Ts, Pieta House, Reach Out, Suicide Aware Cork, and Walk in My Shoes have received a slice of the funding.
Ms Twomey praised all those who have organised and supported the events, including Newmarket Motors, Keogh’s in Rockchapel and Cahills in Meelin, bars including Pat Callaghan’s in Meelin, Paddy Mollys, the Rock, and Murphys, and O’Keeffe’s SuperValu in Newmarket.
Ms Twomey also launched a campaign to ensure gardaí receive suicide awareness training, which has led to improved training courses in Ireland, England, and across Europe. Ms Twomey said she has also received huge support from Chief Superintendent Aidan Reid, the president of TISPOL — the Network of European Traffic Police Forces.
She spoke at a road safety conference in Malahide in May and will address the European Policing Road Safety Conference in Manchester later this year.