HERMANN and Croinne Stern, the owners of Liss Ard Estate outside Skibbereen, flew in to Ireland last week from Switzerland for a quick visit and to deliver a very special early Christmas present for the pupils at St Patrick’s Boys’ National School.
The Swiss couple, who are the owners of Liss Ard for many years, presented school principal Alan Foley with a cheque for €6,700 which was raised at a fundraising dinner hosted at the hotel back in October for the children classes in the school.
This is the second year that Hermann and Croinne have hosted this event which has raised almost €12,000 in just two years.
‘The money is just incredible,’ Alan told The Southern Star.
‘Not only are we able to buy the equipment we need, which is specialised and often very expensive, but we have been able to do so many things with our boys and girls in the ASD classes with this money.’
Since September the school has been able to rent out the community swimming pool in Baltimore for the autism classes for an hour a week and they have also had a four-week pottery course in Cré Pottery in Skibbereen.
‘It just gives us the chance to provide experiences and opportunities for our children that they might not normally get,’ Alan said.
‘A number of our children couldn’t go to a public swimming pool because of the crowds and the noise. Having the pool to ourselves means everyone is relaxed and has fun – and hopefully learns to swim.’
As well as the money raised, the school used the event to raise awareness locally.
‘We saw it as a huge opportunity to raise awareness of autism in town and to get local businesses to think about what they could do to be more welcoming of families who live with autism. The response has been fantastic,’ Alan said.
‘The Church restaurant had us down for hot chocolate and buns at Hallowe’en,’ he added.
‘A few businesses have come together and are sending the pupils and their families to visit Santa in Fota this Friday.
‘The businesses and people of Skibbereen have been so positive and we can’t thank them enough. But it’s all stemmed from the generosity of the Stern family of Liss Ard and Aidan, the general manager.
‘They are just incredible people. We can’t thank them enough.’