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Special guest Tommy Walsh to attend 3rd Annual Susie Long Memorial Walk

Third Annual Susie Long Memorial WalkAn inspirational mother who died after exposing horrific failings in our health system will be remembered at a special event in her community.

The third annual Susie Long Memorial Walk takes place in Kilkenny Castle Park on Sunday, November 30 at 12 noon.

KCLR 96fm presenter Edwina Grace will be leading the walk in memory of courageous Susie Long, who died from bowel cancer in 2007.

Edwina, who has had personal experience of cancer in her family, described her admiration for Susie Long for speaking out about her struggles as a public patient.

photo: Pat Moore

"As soon as Susie picked up the phone and spoke on radio, hearing her human voice, changed everyone's perspective on waiting lists and statistics. We thought, 'here is a real person telling us our health system failed her'. By sharing her story, Susie achieved so much, and continues to do so, seven years on from her death with the recent opening of six new palliative care beds in her local hospital St Luke's," said Edwina Grace.

Edwina will be joined by her cousin, Kilkenny hurling legend Tommy Walsh, on the day. Fans will get the opportunity to wish Tommy well as he announced his retirement from intercounty hurling this morning (Thursday, Nov 20).  Edwina is encouraging people, young and old, to turn out for the walk and enjoy the fresh air and to remember loved ones who have died through cancer.

"Whatever your fitness levels, it doesn't matter, just come out and walk two laps of the Castle Park with us. It's about remembering those who are important to us and whose lives have been affected by cancer. Bring your dogs, your buggies or prams and enjoy the beautiful surroundings," remarked Edwina.

Susie's family and friends, including her husband, Conor Mac Liam, will be attending the walk. Conor, who is a member of the Susie Long Hospice Fund, the group set up to lobby for a 12-bed hospice in Kilkenny said: "The walk is an opportunity to spread the word about what we do and to remember Susie in a sociable and fun way.

"The Susie Long Hospice Fund has already financed six state-of-the-art palliative care beds in St Luke's Hospital in Kilkenny to the tune of €50,000. That is thanks to the generosity of the public who got behind us from day one. We also look forward to providing a family room for relatives of palliative care patients. Our ultimate goal is to see the opening of a 12-bed hospice here in Kilkenny in the future."

Registration forms for the walk are available from Rollercoaster Records on Kieran Street, Kilkenny or contact Eamonn on 085 148 7736. Donations can be made on the day of the walk. Free t-shirt to everyone who contributes €5 or more. Water and lollipops will be provided for walkers.

Six state-of-the-art palliative care beds financed by the Susie Long Hospice Fund will be officially opened in St Luke's Hospital General Hospital for Carlow-Kilkenny on Friday (October 10th, 2014).

Minister of State Ann Phelan will unveil the new beds, equipment and furnishings which were funded by the group set up in memory of the late Susie Long.

Susie died of bowel cancer on October 12th, 2007, aged 41 but not before she exposed the failings of a two-tier healthcare system. Susie's husband, Conor Mac Liam, and their two children Áine and Fergus, have welcomed the new facilities at St Luke's.

"As a family, we are relieved and delighted to see the new facilities for palliative care patients and their families. If these beds were available when Susie needed full-time care towards the end of her life, it would have been a great comfort to her and our family," said Conor Mac Liam.

"This is real progress for patients and it's a step closer to the day when we will open the full 12-bed hospice in Susie's memory in Kilkenny," he added.

The Susie Long Hospice Fund (SLHF) allocated €50,000 for the new specialist beds, equipment and furnishings in St Luke's.

Chairman of the SLHF Fund Tommy Roche said the group is "delighted to provide support to palliative care patients" in the hospital. "We will also be funding a family area very soon. These measures will add to the excellent care already provided by management and staff at the hospital."

He added: "It is thanks to the generosity of the people who donated to the Susie Long Hospice Fund that palliative care patients will now see real benefits. We look forward to the day when we return to St Luke's to open the permanent 12-bed hospice."

The SLHF has raised over €688,000 to date and continues to raise awareness of the need for hospice care for patients throughout the country. The group has been working closely with General Manager of St Luke's Hospital Anne Slattery and Clinical Director of the hospital Dr Garry Courtney in recent months to secure the new beds.

"We would like to extend our thanks to the management and all of the staff at St Luke's for their ongoing commitment to palliative care patients in Carlow and Kilkenny," said Mr Roche.

A ceremony to mark the official opening of the new beds will be attended by Minister of State Ann Phelan, members of the SLHF, and management at St Luke's in the Education Centre, Administration Building, on Friday (October 10th, 2014, at 11 am).
The Susie Long Hospice Fund was set up in October 2007 to provide the highest possible quality of end-of-life care for patients and their families through the establishment of a 12-bed hospice in Kilkenny, for the people of Kilkenny and Carlow. 
The Fund plans to meet this challenge through fundraising, increasing awareness of the need and benefits of local hospice care and by lobbying Government for support. 
Donations can be made directly to the fund at
AIB, High St, Kilkenny,
Account No: 3462705,
Sort code: 93-31-98. 
The Susie Long Hospice Fund is a registered charity, number CHY17950
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