THE outpouring of goodwill from the people of Bantry – and indeed all of West Cork – has both humbled and inspired Chloe Keane and her family.
Chloe Keane is the 16-year-old Bantry girl who sustained a serious brain injury while working with horses on August 13th last and spent weeks in the intensive care unit at Cork University Hospital.
One of the reasons Chole’s accident, and her ongoing recovery, has touched the hearts of so many people is that she was already so well known – as one of triplets you could hardly miss Chloe or her brothers, Steven and David.
Chloe’s accident turned the entire family’s life upside down. Her older sister, Jorden, promptly set up a GoFundMe page to help with medical and other expenses, which are still ongoing.
Not content to just make a private contribution, many local shop and business owners in the Bantry area started putting up donation boxes on their counters, whilst other organisations and communities – in places like Ballydehob, Schull and Skibbereen – became involved in organising fundraising events like the Cheval Ride that took place last November which had Chloe looking on proudly from the sidelines.
Chole’s mother, Julia, and her grandmother, Janet Robertson, are very proud, independent, people and – in the face of such goodwill – they struggled to express the family’s feelings of humility and gratitude.
As Chloe works on her recovery – which in terms of her speech and mobility has been very good so far – the family have been trying to find ways of saying ‘thank you’.
A letter – that was issued on behalf of her parents, Stephen and Julia, and indeed all the members of her family – started off with the phrase: ‘Words cannot express how grateful we are.’ The letter has been widely circulated and it was even read from the altar.
In it, the family thanked Bantry community, the local businesses, the wider West Cork community, and the West Cork equine ‘family’, for their generous support of the GoFundMe campaign and other events.
As a result of the exceptional care that Chloe received in the brain injury unit at CUH, she was able to come home in October.
But even before her official discharge, Chloe was given a special ‘one-day pass’ so she could be with her brothers when they picked up their Junior Cert results.
Coláiste Phobail Bheanntraí allocated a separate room with the principal and her teacher, plus two or three of Chole’s closest friends, and they made a ceremony of presenting the triplets with their results. Immediately afterwards, Chloe hightailed it out to Isabel Burke’s stables, where she had the accident, and enjoyed lunch with her two and four-legged friends before heading back to CUH.
The accident left Chloe with limited strength on her left-hand side, but she is continuing to receive physiotherapy and occupational therapy at Bantry General Hospital.
Last week, Chloe also received the good news that she now has a place at the National Rehabilitation Centre in Dún Laoghaire and will be going there on Monday next, January 21st, for two months of intensive treatment.
‘Looking at her and talking to her, she’s perfect,’ said her grandmother. ‘But there are brain issues that have to be addressed and the hospital at Dún Laoghaire is an important part of her development and the treatment there will hopefully see Chloe return to school in September.’
Janet said the money raised is a great help in offsetting the cost of Chloe’s ongoing treatment, but it has also given the family some breathing space – it has given them the opportunity to focus on caring for Chloe.
It has enabled Julia to take time off work to take her appointments and it has allowed for modifications to Chloe’s bedroom at her home at Pairc na Carraige in Newtown, Bantry.
The thank you letter that the family hoped would say so much ended with the words: ‘We will be forever grateful. Your generosity will never, ever be forgotten.’