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- Celebrating Fifty Years of Dedicated Service
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Fifty years of dedicated voluntary service by a group of people drawn from various walks of life in different towns and villages in Co. Monaghan, who have spearheaded the efforts of NCBI throughout the area since the formation of the first NCBI branch in the county on June 27th 1960, were celebrated at a special Golden Jubilee Dinner in the Glencarn Hotel, Castleblaney on Wednesday the 15th of September.
The occasion was a significant milestone in the history of NCBI.
Prior to the dinner, Mr Patrick Mc Fadden, President of the Castleblaney Chamber of Commerce, and General Manager of the Glencarn Hotel, invited the Branch Chairperson Mrs Margot Mc Cabe (Clones) along with the other officers and guests to a special wine reception hosted by the hotel. He welcomed all to the venue and expressed congratulations to Mrs Mc Cabe and NCBI on the fiftieth anniversary occasion being celebrated.
Speaking at the dinner NCBI Chief Executive Des Kenny congratulated all concerned with the establishment, promotion and outstanding progress of the Co. Monaghan Branch of the organisation and said he was absolutely delighted to be in their midst for the Co. Monaghan Golden Jubilee celebrations. He said the Co. Monaghan NCBI Branch had always reflected their responses to the changing pattern of needs of the visually impaired people of the county and he felt it was because of this responsiveness that the Monaghan branch continued to exist as one of NCBI’s most dynamic branches.
“When the work of the branch started in 1960, our major concern was for the welfare of blind people – people whose degree of sight loss was significant. There was much poverty amongst the blind of 60 years ago and very little opportunity for education and meaningful employment.”
“Total blindness amongst younger blind persons has been reducing over the decades because of better health care, new drugs and surgical interventions through new techniques of micro surgery. But while this form of blindness has been in decline there has been a rise in a different form of sight loss and this revolves around the eye diseases of old age.”
He added that NCBI was now working with many people in the older age groups, such as people over the age of 70 years, who sustained deterioration in their eyesight from such ageing conditions such as macular degeneration and cataracts.
He also pointed to the fact that in 2004, NCBI held data on 6,400 people with whom the agency and today worked with over 15,000 people who were experiencing significant sight loss but who were not blind.
“This increased level of work is performed with the same number of frontline workers, just ninety two, which was the number we had six years ago.”
Des Kenny then went on to say how the organisation worked has had to change, not just because of the increased numbers, but because there were different expectations today from people with low vision.
He revealed that NCBI is currently having the “cost of sight loss” study carried out, which will show the importance of the government investing in eye health care and rehabilitation.
“The Central Statistics Office shows us that in 2006, there were nearly 400,000 older persons in the country and it goes on to forecast a three-fold increase in this number to 11.2 million by 2036.”
“Most of these people, living into a longer old age will have sight related needs which the NCBI will have to address.”
He said the invisible element in the hotel function room where they gathered in Wednesday night was the spirit of commitment. “That great commitment continues and is greatly valued by the organisation nationally.”
Des Kenny concluded by referring to Seamus Heaney’s new collection of poems “Human Chain” in which Heaney refers to the importance of each link in a chain but says that the links are only important to the strength they give to the chain as a whole. As such, he said the Co. Monaghan NCBI Branch was a powerful link in the chain of NCBI’s work nationally.
The event was also attended by local T.D. for Monaghan/ Cavan Dr Rory O’ Hanlon, who recalled how he was actively involved in the early stages of the work of the Co. Monaghan NCBI Branch, along with the Cooper family from Carrickmacross. Dr O Hanlon paid tribute to all the Branch officials down to the years and said he was impressed by the role of NCBI and the tremendous voluntary effort harnessed by those involved for the benefit of others.
The chairperson Mrs Mc Cabe formally welcomed all those in attendance and said that she was delighted by the success of the Co. Monaghan NCBI Branch. She traced the history of the Branch from its foundation at an initial in Hope Castle Blayney, which was organised by a County Organiser, a Miss Woods, an organising secretary Miss Knox; and a “Wireless-for-the-Blind” secretary, a Miss Wade.
She recounted how the earlier work involved the employment of a Home Teacher for blind and partially sighted people in the county and went on to detail the many exciting changes which they experienced in their role in the community during the past fifty years. She said that they were indebted to all who had helped the organisation over the years in so many different ways such as in the provision of various services such as the “Talking Newspaper”, fund-raising, collections, etc., etc., .She also singled out for special praise their present Community Resource Worker, Mrs Catherine Kilgarriff, and also their Regional Representative of the NCBI National Council, Mrs Jean Wilkinson of Monaghan.