The Laois branch of Down Syndrome Ireland celebrated its 21st anniversary at its centre at the Gort na n-Óir Community Centre in Abbeyleix over the weekend.
Close to 80 people attended the event which saw the launch of the group’s new website, www.laoisdownsyndrome.ie, which went live yesterday (Monday).
Smile after smile dominated the celebrations as the party got underway with live music, refreshments, hot and cold food and a magician who entertained both young and old to make it a day to remember.
Chairperson of the group Michael Gorman said the celebration marked a milestone for the goroup,
“We are delighted to be celebrating our 21st anniversary here today. Everyone is having a great time.
“We see ourselves as one big happy family and we want to acknowledge our members, volunteers and our dedicated team both past and present.
“We have an exceptional committee and today’s celebrations are about everything that our families have achieved together.
“We offer a wide range of therapies for our members including occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, physiotherapy and chiropody to name a few.
“We also have families in our group with autism and other disabilities we do not limit ourselves when it comes to people who need help.
“All I can say is that I am very much looking forward to the next 21 years. We would like to thank everyone who helped to make this day such a success,” he said.
Ballycoolan man Gordon Bradley (82) has been involved in helping people with special needs for over 40 years.
The brainchild behind the Kolbe Special Needs School in Portlaoise is a member of Laois Down Syndrome among several other groups. He spoke of what can be achieved with determination.
“We knocked on each of the then 25,000 houses in County Laois hoping to get a donation of one old pound towards building the Kolbe centre. We collected over £73,000.
“The health board had said they would match our total pound for pound.
“True to their word they did. At the launch I had the pleasure of saying that the centre was completely paid for.” he said.
Members of Laois Down Syndrome were presented with special 21st anniversary framed certificates along with €25 each in prize bonds. Those honoured were Clare Walsh, Ciara Abbott, Stephen Bergin, Leslie Bradley, Charlotte Lalor, Aoife Byrne, Caoimhe Campion, Joseph McGavin, Jack Carroll, Nicky Rea, Maria Delaney, Hope Allen, Elizabeth Donovan, Michael Dowling, Aoife Drennan, Lee Whelan, Laura Glynn, Eoin Gorman, Dylan Grady, Shane Greene, Aaron Harte, Leo Hyland, Aine Keegan, Sadhbh Lalor, Daniel Maher, Alex Miron, Aoife Sadlier, Emer Sinnott and Ellen Sherlock.