THE recent death of Heide Roche has been greeted with widespread regret and dismay in Kinsale as she had established a special reputation as one of the most generous and dedicated persons who came to live in the area.
A native of Germany, her first involvement in Kinsale was with the Good Food Circle when her Bistro Restaurant established a reputation for excellence. But, while her business thrived she had a special interest in and concern for the elderly after she had seen the need of greater care for them in her native Germany and she, and her husband Stanley, were generous supporters of a wide range of local projects.
Almost single-handed she established the Senior Citizens’ Club in the Temperance Hall, which was being renovated at the time, and funded the provision of the partition which helped to make the old building so much more comfortable for the elderly with whom she spent every afternoon, playing bingo and providing refreshments to create a centre where elderly residents could meet their friends and socialise in comfort.
But this venture was only the beginning of her involvement, as Heide realised the great need for sheltered housing for the elderly and set about providing a remedy. She located a suitable site near the Garda Barracks and purchased it with her own funds and then built the first phase of the Guardwell Homes with matching State funds.
This project was so successful that she then proceeded with stage two to create a facility that has become the envy of many other towns.
In spite of the huge workload involved in completing this project, she embarked on yet another plan to help upgrade the facilities in the Kinsale Community Hospital. This involved years of hard work and fundraising and the improved facilities she helped provide are a constant reminder of her commitment to Kinsale.
In spite of her huge involvement in these major projects, Heide never forgot to maintain contact with the people of the town to whom she had devoted so much time and effort.
Her Christmas parties and outings were annual events, whether in her own restaurant or in others, all at her own expense.
She was a really unique person, not just generous in the way she funded the different projects, but in the amount of time she spent working with the elderly, in the Temperance Hall, in supporting Meals on Wheels, cooking and visiting homes.
In spite of suffering from serious illness in recent years and the death of Stanley, Heide maintained her interest in and support for the different projects.
Her legacy will not just be in the Guardwell Homes complex and the Community Hospital, but in the way she inspired others to join with her to make Kinsale a better place, especially for elderly and those in need of housing.
Ní bheidh a leithéid arís ann.