Jennifer Jones Hickey who founded Circle of Friends
Construction of a €1m ‘shining light’ cancer support centre in Tipperary town will start in early April and is expected to be open to the public in early 2018.
Contracts for the state of the art cancer support centre were signed on Monday and the turning of the sod on the ambitious project undertaken by the Circle of Friends voluntary group will take place on Friday week.
Circle of Friends was established in 2013 as a result of the vision of a young local woman Jennifer Jones Hickey who realised the need for such services for the people of West Tipperary,East Limerick and North Cork following her own diagnosis.
Her father and Circle of Friends Chairman Patrick Jones said “This project is an example of vision, energy and volunteerism at its finest, and is one that the Board and the members of Circle of Friends are extremely proud of. To have come so far so quickly is a testament to all of the hard work put in by so many and this ‘shining light ‘centre will be a legacy for years to come for so many people.”
A delegation from Circle of Friends and Tipperary TD’s met with Health Minister Simon Harris in January looking for funding and the decision was taken to proceed with the build following his expression of support for the project.
The new centre will be located on a 0.99 ace site at Knockanrawley donated by Cashel/Tipperary Municipal Authority in 2015.
Circle of Friends has already raised €500,000 for the new centre.Phase one of the build will commence in early April bringing the project to shell and core stage, a further €200,000 is required to open services to the public on the ground floor and phase three of the project will see services expand to the upper floor level.
The new centre will be modern and contemporary, has 4 treatment rooms, office facilities, a large kitchen suitable for coffee mornings and demonstrations, living room spaces, a multi-purpose second floor with a large feature window, taking advantage of the views of the Galtee Mountains, and has a number of areas of privacy and quiet space.
The group currently operate out of a rented facilities at Station House but the demand for the services provided means Circle of Friends has outgrown that location.The Tipp town centre is the nearest support centre of its kind in a 30 mile radius to Tipperary Town and meets the needs of a rural population in West Tipperary, East Limerick and North Cork. Circle of Friends are the only Cancer Support Group in a hinterland of more than 60,000 people. Circle of Friends also run well attended outreach information mornings to surrounding towns in Limerick and Tipperary such as Galbally, Kilfinane, Annacarty and Emly.
It was because of the increase in service users that the Circle of Friends board decided to push on with ambitious plans for a new purpose built centre, something which has become crucial if they are to continue to operate.
“The current rented location has reached its capacity and is not suitable for purpose any more. We have no disabled access, share toilets, have no kitchen facilities or running water and have very little space” said Patrick Jones,Circle of Friends Chairman.
“Our new centre will help us provide our current services to a wider number of affected persons, and means we can build on them and offer additional activities. It will feel like the home of a good friend on the inside and creating comfortability is the key.” said Patrick Jones.
Circle of Friends have embarked on a new fundraising “Buy A Brick” campaign to help them reach their target which will be launched in the town this Friday.Members of the public will be asked to buy a brick for €50.