Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Marc de Salvo takes Overall Award
Well, Readers, you should have seen our Mary Campbell at the People of The Year Awards - she was a real glam-mam, I can tell you! And daughter, Laura, wow, the pair of them looked stunning. It was a marvellous night and Coughlanstown was well represented with Uncle ‘Ticket-Seller Supreme’, Tom in tow plus Nan Quinn, Tommy and Bernie Dwyer. Neighbours June and Kevin Keenan presented Mary with her award representing sponsors KTK Sand and Gravel. The Ballymore Brigade included lifelong friends Rita O’Rourke, Olive and Pat Hilliard, Martina and Dan Byrne, Margaret McDonald and Mary Deegan of the CDA and Mary Darker who were joined by Pierce and Frances Ward Jones of Angel Eyes .

We had a ball, Hotel Keadeen was packed with almost 500 seated guests. With 13 individual citations to be read, Matt Browne MC played a blinder. Mary, despite looking like a beauty queen couldn’t wait to get down off the stage when Matt interviewed her – she certainly hates being centre stage and only relaxed, I’d say, when her presentation was over!
The other 9 nominees were people of Mary’s calibre, all community or charity driven – Catherine Dunne, Naas; Catherine Kearney, Newbridge; Susan Keegan, Leixlip; Paddy Walshe, Athy; Dolly Wellar, The Curragh; Sr Mary Minehan, Kildare; Michael Donohue, Newbridge; Evelyn McKee, Carbury and of course, Overall Winner, Marc de Salvo from Celbridge.
Our sincere thanks to June and Kevin for sponsoring the award and congrats again to Our Mary
who richly deserved the accolade and recognition.

MARC DE SALVO Kildare Person of The Year Award 2007
Eight years ago, Marc and Andrea’s beautiful little daughter was diagnosed as being autistic. The prognosis was shattering: long term institutionalisation, she would cause disruption to the other family children, she would never talk or walk………. They were devastated, heartbroken. Jessica de Salvo was ‘written off’ at only two years of age.

This is a situation that many parents of autistic children have faced. Thankfully, Jessica de Salvo’s parents didn’t accept the prognosis, they just couldn’t. Along with similar thinking families, they fought, lobbied and begged for proper educational facilities; if autistic children could not be catered for within mainstream education service, they must be given specialised teaching and support. The Saplings School in Kill provides that and there are now three other similar schools in Ireland, only the tip of the iceberg as to what is needed.

Marc de Salvo was humbled, elated and emotional at receiving the award. He accepted the award on behalf of all The Saplings team, the parents, support group and especially the tutors, who do exhaustive work. Jessica is ten now, lives at home; she walks, talks, enjoys swimming, riding lessons and has a very strong opinion on what she does and doesn’t want to do!

In his acceptance speech, Marc pointed out that 1 in every 166 children have autistic symptoms – that’s a scary statistic. If that were a virus or contagious epidemic, it would be declared a national crisis…….. In Marc’s address, he praised the support the association received from Kildare County Council and local politicians. (The Kildare Person of The Year Awards are sponsored by KCC; without them, we couldn’t afford the gala events night). Across the political parties, support was given to Saplings request for a site for a proper educational centre to cater for young and older children with autism. Naas UDC allocated a suitable site in Jigginstown, Naas and now, the mammoth task of fundraising will take priority.

Congratulations to Marc, Andrea and all the Saplings Team (coincidentally, Anne Sammon works with the centre in Kill) – a well deserved recognition of the work done and the work yet to do.

Rose B O’ Donoghue
Mary Campbell would like to thank the following people who helped her and wisher her well for the Kildare Person of the Year
To my family Anthony and Laura, Pat & Tom.
To Nan Quinn and the Dreelan family.
To Kevin & June Keenan.

Special thanks to everyone who sent flowers, good luck messages, gifts and cards.
To everyone who attended the Ballymore Person of the Year and the Kildare Person of the Year.
Everyone who helped me in all the projects down the years and very special thanks to Rose & Tim.

Thanks a mill.
A GOOD READ with Angie

As beleaguered women seem to have been a theme of my latest reading, I’m not entirely sure that this month’ selection may automatically appeal to male readers, but I have been proven wrong about this in the past! I found Maggie O’Farrell’s novel “The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox” (Paperback: Headline review: 12.10 euro) both fascinating and sad. Set in present day Scotland it tell s the story of Esme, now in her 70’s who is on the verge of being released from a mental institution where she has spent all her adult life. Juxtaposed with the modern day lifestyle of her niece Iris, the flashbacks to Esme’s childhood in Raj India and pre-war Scotland seem like several lifetimes away. Maggie O’Farrell is a very skilful story –teller and this sad tale is not designed to make the heroine appear pathetic, she is actually very inspiring. The book reveals some interesting historical perspectives on mental illness and shows how devastating it could be for women in the early 20th century who did not fit the “norm” of how females should behave. I don’t want to give too much of the plot away, because it is an excellently structured one, and the description of the relationship between the two main characters from such very different contexts is extremely well done. I enjoyed one of Maggie O’Farrell’s earlier novels too – “After you’d gone”, but I think with Esme Lennox she has really achieved a great feat of telling an interesting story whilst raising the reader’s awareness of an issue that is to some extent still stigmatised today.

My other (mammoth – for me- 518 pages!)) read- was also very engaging and had a superb historical backdrop – “The Boleyn Inheritance” by Phillipa Gregory
(Paperback: Harper Collins: 15 euro) I was given this book ages ago as a present, but had been reluctant to start it, due to its length! I was inspired by the serialisation of the Tudors on TV and because I kept missing episodes of it I decided the book was the only way to get a satisfying story! I was not disappointed, Phillipa Gregory does super research and you get a tremendous feeling for the period. Set at the court of Henry the VIII it tells the story of two of his lesser-known wives, Anne Of Cleves and Katherine Howard. The perspectives of the story are split between these two and a third protagonist- Jane Boleyn, sister-in -law to the late Anne and lady in waiting to all the Queens of England in that era. Her unique behind the scenes view and her own complex psychology, having given evidence against both Anne and her own husband at their trials, makes her a compelling character.

We also gain insight into the wise nature of Anne of Cleves, as she arrives in England to be Henry’s bride and then of the young and frivolous Katherine Howard. I must admit I was shocked to realise just how young Katherine was when Henry took her as his fifth wife- their relationship epitomises everything that was wrong and corrupt about his monarchy. Although it is a long novel it is difficult to put down- even though as the reader you also know how it ends. Although it would be easy to see the three women who surrounded Henry at this period as victims of his whims, Gregory depicts them in an intelligent way and leaves the reader to decide who was ultimately powerless and who’s spirit persevered. A really good read, particularly for lovers of historical fiction.

As usual, book s available from Janet Hawkins and her team in the Blessington Book Store. Next time….some recommendations for Christmas book buys…..
Angie Thompson

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