Phil McLoughlin, Sean Rice and Gerard McVeigh
A TRIO of maintenance men from the Southern Area Hospice are taking on a gruelling hike to give back to the service that has been providing outstanding care to patients and families in their darkest days.
After an outpouring of support to the hospice with donations of PPE from the wider community in the last number of months, the men felt compelled to take on their own unique challenge and raise much-needed funds themselves.
Sean Rice (Burrenbridge), Gerard McVeigh (Attical) and Phil McLoughlin (Corgary Road, Glenn) all work as maintenance men for the Southern Area Hospice and will make up the team completing the Hospice Maintenance Men Mourne Wall Challenge.
The men will set off at 6am this Saturday, 5 September (weather permitting) and trek 24 miles along the Mourne wall, covering 13 peaks.
The Outlook recently spoke with Sean Rice after he had climbed the summit of Slieve Donard earlier that day as part of his training. Sean has been working for the hospice for the last eight years, a job which he clearly loves.
“Gerard came up with the idea of taking on this challenge and myself and Phil didn’t need any convincing to get involved ourselves.
“The hospice is such an excellent facility and we have been genuinely overwhelmed with people’s generosity over the last few months in terms of PPE and fundraising.
“This was our biggest reason for getting involved and we felt that it was time that we gave something back after seeing the generosity of others which was really inspirational.
“Our maintenance role is a 24-hour on call service, it is a very rewarding and varied role, and this is where the idea of the 24miles came from as we provide a 24-hour service.”
Sean explained that it will be a “tough challenge” that will take the men approximately 10 to 12 hours to complete.
“We are aiming to set off at 6am and be back down for 6pm, well that’s the plan, we will see how it goes!”
“The three of us have never been off together at the one time so we are looking forward to having the craic together too, it should be fun.”
All the men have had fantastic support from their family and friends with training and fundraising. Sean’s grandson, 12-year-old Ethan Cooper has been keeping his granda company on some of the routes.
“Ethan has been a great support and has climbed up Slieve Donard a number of times with me.
“It’s been lovely to have him and all the family supporting me.”
The team is dedicating the trek to all the patients and families who have been with them at the hospice.
A spokesperson from the hospice added: “Each of these gentlemen have worked in the Southern Area Hospice for many years and worked continuously throughout lockdown.
“No task is ever too much; they are always there to help us 24-hours a day on call with whatever we need, and we would be truly lost without them.” Donations can be made on the following JustGiving page https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/southern-area-hospice-services2