By BRIAN MOORE
THE new Mizen Wheel Chair Connect bus is ready to take to the highways and byways with Cork’s county Mayor on hand to cut the ribbon for the first journey.
Having received a special passport to travel from his home in North Cork, County Mayor John Paul O’Shea (Ind) was welcomed to Schull recently to launch the new wheelchair accessible bus at Schull Community Hospital.
‘The people of the Mizen Peninsula have fundraised and worked hard for many years to ensure that their local hospital remains a vital part of our community and while we have provided plenty of bricks and mortar we wanted to see what we could get that would make the lives of the many wheelchair users in this area easier,’ Michael Collins, chairman of the Friends of Schull Hospital told The Southern Star.
Identifying a need for a wheelchair accessible vehicle the committee of the Friends of Schull Hospital set about providing funds for a minibus that could be used not only for patients at the hospital but for those who require specialised transport in the area.
‘We wanted a vehicle that could be used to take people to events and appointments, a vehicle that families could use when they want to take a loved one on a trip, a vehicle that would be a part of the community and not just for trips to doctors and to hospital.’ Michael Collins continued.
The bus can comfortably transport two wheelchair users along with seven other persons and has been dedicated to the memory of Keith McAuliffe who was the previous owner of the bus.
‘Keith, was a young man who sadly passed away back in 2013. This was his bus and his family who live in Kanturk are here today. We want to thank Ben and Sheila McAuliffe for their support and we know that this is a very emotional day for them. The Mizen Wheel Chair Connect Bus is named in Keith’s memory and we know that this bus will make a huge difference to the lives of the many wheelchair users in our area,’ Mr Collins said.
Cutting the ribbon Cork County Mayor John Paul O’Shea said he was delighted to be in West Cork and especially Schull for the launch of the new bus.
‘I am always delighted to come to West Cork and especially to the newly renovated Schull Community Hospital for the launch of the Mizen Wheel Chair Connect Bus. There is great community spirit and initiative here on the Mizen and I have to say that Schull Community Hospital has exceeded all my expectations. I want to congratulate the people of this community who have worked so hard to ensure that they and the HSE can be proud of the excellent care they provide for those that need it most.’ Cllr O’Shea said.
Also on hand for the launch of the new bus, Paddy Ryan of the HSE, said that he was looking forward to the official opening of the new Schull Community Hospital.
‘I want to congratulate the Friends of Schull Hospital on all their work over the years. The new bus will enhance the day to day lives of many people in this area and the people of the Mizen should be very proud of all that has been achieved here. I have no doubt that Schull Community Hospital is probably the best hospital of its type in Co Cork,’ Mr Ryan said.
Michael Collins, said that with the bus now in place the committee needed to ensure that it would be available when and where it was most needed.
‘We will be looking for volunteer drivers for the bus. Anyone with a full licence between the age of 21 and 70 years old can apply. You don’t need a special bus licence to drive the vehicle and if you are interested and can give us some of your time please contact any member of the Friends of Schull Hospital committee,’ he said.
Mr Collins went on to thank all the members of the Friends of Schull Hospital committee, everybody that so generously supported the fundraising down through the years – Paddy Ryan, Anne O’Driscoll and Rosin Welch from the HSE and all the staff at Schull Community Hospital.
‘We would also like to thank David O’Brien at Local Link Cork for all his help and the volunteers at the Little Way Charity Shop in Schull. Once again I would like to thank Ben and Sheila McAuliffe and of course their beloved son Keith in whose memory the Mizen Wheel Chair Connect Bus is dedicated,’ Michael Collins concluded.