by Catriona Corcoran


St Mary’s Parents and Friends, South Hill Delvin, began over 50 years ago, during the 1960s when times were tough. Its main focus at that time was on fundraising to give additional comfort to residents. This culminated in a mega drive to raise funds for a hydra therapy pool which opened in the early 1980s. This was probably the biggest project that the organisation took on and it will remain testament to those parents and friends who worked so hard for its dream to become a reality.

Many organisations who have continued to fundraise for us over the last twenty five years and we are extremely grateful to them. Our focus on spending our funds has changed in recent years, as many residents have moved from residential living to community living and we have bought a number of vehicles to facilitate their move into the community. The focus of our organisation has also changed in recent years from one of predominately fundraising to that of mutual support and sharing of our experiences as parents of adults with an intellectual disability.

This has been challenged many times as staffing levels changed, community living was strived for and new ways of thinking were introduced. Our organisation has afforded us the opportunity to discuss and challenge those ideas in the safety net of understanding and empathy. Great friendships have been made over the years, culminating in our 50-year celebrations at our garden party on 12 June last year in St Mary’s. It was the largest event to ever take place in St Mary’s, with over 500 family members, young and old, current and retired staff, and friends who enjoyed the sunniest and warmest June day with a barbecue that included roasted pig, wine, music, song and dance.

The garden party was a day for everyone to remember as it was filled with so much joy, laughter and chatter; it was a great testimony to work of the Parents and Friends of St Mary’s Delvin.