Big Laois family gets the best Christmas present following tragic death of father

Widow of seven is presented with 9-seater after local fundraising effort

Big Laois family gets the best Christmas present following tragic death of father
By Lynda Kiernannews@leinsterexpress.ieTwitter: @laoisnews

A community effort to help a family came to fruition last week when the Doyle family from Portlaoise received their brand new 9-seater car, thanks to a local fundraising campaign.

Michelle Doyle, and her seven young children, including three sets of twins, tragically lost husband and dad Christopher Doyle when he passed away suddenly in his sleep last June.

“He just didn't wake up. It was a big shock. Some days are harder than others, luckily I have good neighbours and friends, and the kids keep me going,” said his widow Michelle, 37.

With no relations living close to help her, she was overwhelmed at the immediate support of the community, from donations to offers to do school runs as her car wasn't big enough.

Playschool owner Bernie Tynan formed a fundraising committee of local parents to buy a nine seater car for them, organising gigs, bagpacks, and setting up a gofundme page and bank account.

“It was so touching, the way they pulled together to do this for us, it is unbelievable. I never thought or expected it all, they just weren't going to stop until they got it,” said a tearful Michelle at the presentation of her car in Downey's Autostop.

A national tv appearance for a while slowed fundraising, as locals thought the family were getting a free car from Volkswagen.

After months of waiting, the committee turned to Downey's who immediately ordered a car.

In total €37,088 was raised, and with a discount from Ford Ireland and Downeys, the family now have a €42,000 Ford Transit 9-seater, customised for Adam's needs, with car seats and insurance and services costs covered for six years.

The children are twins Adam and Anthony, 8, who attend St Francis' School, Andrew aged 7 and twins Lily and Luke, 6, who go to Scoil Bhride, and Ollie and Olivia, 4, in playschool.

In matching warm coats, they posed patiently for photos in their new car, before taking off together to surprise their grandparents Mary and John in Dublin.

“I just love it,” said Olivia.

“It's fun, I like where we're sitting,” said Luke, as Adam gave Michelle a high five.

Committee member Elaine Duff thanked the community for support.

“It shows how strong a community spirit we have here. She is such an amazing woman and they are such lovely kids, now they have some security,and they can go places as a unit, that's very important,” she said.