New bus for Laois wheelchair users

A teenager it may only be, but its time is nearly spent - the VW bus belonging to the Laois Branch of the Irish Wheelchair Association.

A teenager it may only be, but its time is nearly spent - the VW bus belonging to the Laois Branch of the Irish Wheelchair Association.

Of 1998 vintage, it has given sterling service. Now, though, it is just a rattling shadow of its former gleaming self. So mused Branch members at their annual general meeting in Portlaoise recently. Nevertheless, they were in a good mood.

They have over €40,00 in the kitty - €21,700 raised by themselves and €20,000 from the National Lottery. And, with a few euros more, they will be able to buy a new bus.

“A new bus will have to be got sooner or later. We should be able to get a bus, or look seriously at getting a bus, in the near future.” Stated Branch Chairperson Patsy Lane.

“We have looked at three different types of buses. I hope that when we get the new bus we will be able to up our level of activity. When the bus is bought, it will be the property of the committee, to be used by the committee,” to told the AGM held recently.

Earlier, Ms Lane had reviewed a very successful year, including hosting the IWA’s national agm. She led members in a minute’s silence for colleagues who had died in the past 12 months, Patrick Kearney, Mountmellick; Lizzie Smith, Portarlington; and John Morrin, Portlaoise.

Josephine Kenny, IWA Service Coordinator in Laois/Offaly, described transport as “a bit of a nightmare.” She praised Branch members for having done a massive amount of work in fundraising for a new bus. She noted: “All we hear about all the time are cutbacks.”

Ms Lane also referred to cuts in central government funding for the IWA. Returning to the prospective new bus, she hoped they would be able to reclaim VAT on it.

Treasurer Maura O’Brien reported on a successful financial year. Deputy Charlie Flanagan promised his continued support for the Branch.

Officers: Chairperson, Patsy Lane; Vice Chairperson, Eugene Lacey; Treasurer, Maura O’Brien; Asst Treasurer, Anna May Dunne; PRO, Paddy Connolly; and Transport Manager, Derek Alcock. A decision on filling the positions of Secretary and Asst Secretary was deferred.

Committee: John Callaghan, Eamon Salmon, Irene Hade, Lena Connolly, Jim Smith, Johnny O’Brien, Bridie Conroy, Anna Cedro and Marie Conroy.

* Forthcoming Laois Branch fundraising events: table qulz, Clonaslee Community Centre, April 6, 9pm; church gate collections, April 14/15; street collection, Portlaoise, June 1 and 2; mini-marathon , June 4.