The late John Hanlon would have been the last to claim the limelight, as his daughter Sinead said at the opening of the opening of the The Maria Goretti Foundation Respite Centre for Children with Disabilities at Lordship on Friday last.
He was a man of vision and on Friday about 500 people gathered at Lordship to see his dream realised.
She said one particular child inspired the centre - Jodi.
Sean and Joanne, parents of Jodi, were just two of the parents who were gathered for the Mass and official opening of the centre.
“We travel to Dublin every week with our daughter Jodi,” said Joanne Traynor. “Travelling up, settling Jodi in and going back to collect her, takes a lot out of our week so to have the Maria Goretti Foundation on our doorstep is just brilliant. We won’t know ourselves.”
It was their plight, and the plight of so many other parents that inspired John Hanlon to make this project a reality.
The facility, has been nine years in the making and will cater for people up to 18 with disabilities.
The foundation will allow parents and carers to have a break from full time care.
A special marquee was full for the concelebrated Mass on Friday afternoon. Chief celebrant was Archbishop Eamon Martin, Coadjutant - Archbishop of Armagh.
Initially, four beds will be available at the centre from Thursdays to Sundays.
Eight will be available by the end of 2015.
The services include overnight stays with multidisciplinary team inputs. The needs of each child will be assessed on an individual basis in consultation with families and other agencies involved in the care and education of that child.
Children on respite breaks will be provided with social, sports and leisure activities. The Maria Goretti Foundation was the brainchild of John Hanlon, of Hanlon Transport, who sadly passed away in 2008.
The site was donated by the late Monica McDermott of Lordship. The Hanlon family and a number of benefactors funded the building of the facility.
Turn to page 31 for photo coverage of the event