Official launch of ‘Lighthouse of Hope’ in Whitehead

East Antrim MLA Stewart Dickson joins the Hope House committee for the official launch of the 'Lighthouse of Hope' facility in Whitehead. INCT 06-706-CON
East Antrim MLA Stewart Dickson joins the Hope House committee for the official launch of the 'Lighthouse of Hope' facility in Whitehead. INCT 06-706-CON

A ‘Lighthouse of Hope’ offering support to cancer patients and their families has been officially launched in Whitehead.

Hope House founders, Dawn and Roy McConnell started the charity in October 2013 with friends and family.

Hope House founders Dawn and Roy McConnell display the charity's beacon of light emblem at the official launch in Whitehead, included is Stewart Dickson MLA. INCT 06-707-CON

Hope House founders Dawn and Roy McConnell display the charity's beacon of light emblem at the official launch in Whitehead, included is Stewart Dickson MLA. INCT 06-707-CON

The background to their vision for the charity was a diagnosis of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma for Roy in 1990. He recovered and was ‘clear’ for 21 years. However, in 2012 the cancer returned and Roy required a further year of treatment.

Dawn says: “Getting a cancer diagnosis is devastating, not only to the person receiving it, but for the immediate family. Life’s landscape changes as treatment, hospital visits and check-ups take over. Many people are unable to travel too far because of the sickness and experience has taught us that it is best to try and remove oneself from the normal everyday routines. A break, even for a few days, can be truly valuable in recovery.

“We often longed for a break but with our disposable income decreasing significantly after Roy’s diagnosis this was impossible. At that time wonderful people provided an apartment by the sea, free of any charge, for us to use. This really did help us to cope with the very stressful situation.

“It was tremendous being by the sea with its excellent views which gave us a ‘Lighthouse of Hope’, a place of refuge in the midst of the dark storm that had hit our lives.

It was tremendous being by the sea with its excellent views

Dawn McConnell

“Having become aware that there were no sanctuaries for older adults, either for local people, or those who had to travel long distances to the hospital for treatments, causing them to leave home extremely early to beat the traffic. Our vision developed for Hope House and with the help of friends and family we started the Charity in October 2013.

The founders and committee members were joined by East Antrim MLA Stewart Dickson on Friday for the unveiling.

Mr Dickson said: “It is tremendous that Dawn and Roy, together with their family and friends, began to raise funds so they could rent an apartment by the sea in Whitehead to provide a facility that would make their vision a reality. Hope House would be available to benefit anyone, be they local or travelling long distances, and supporting cancer patients and family through their illness and treatment.

“I was delighted to officially Launch Hope House on Friday fifth February and in doing so pay tribute to Dawn and Roy McConnell, their family and the wonderful team of people who help them with the running of Hope House, Mariah and Brian Martin, Jacqueline McCullough, Jacquie Darrah, Frances Crosbie, Louise McGreevey, Noel McKee, and Joyce and Matt Thompson, and their wonderful volunteers and fund raisers.

“I would ask any individual or organisation, who might be able to support Hope House to come and visit it to see for themselves this remarkable facility.

Roy McConnell concluded: On behalf of ‘Team Hope’ I offer a huge thank-you to everyone who has supported us on the journey. Without each and every contribution it could not have come this far.

“We have now been given the exciting opportunity of purchasing Hope House in Whitehead, so if anyone could help us with fundraising to enable us to secure the apartment, we would be delighted to hear from you. You can also support us by becoming a monthly sponsor or make a one-off donation on our website through PayPal, Just Giving or Bank Transfers.

“Please do get in touch through: www.hopehouseireland.org or info@hopehouseireland.org or 07764406646 or www.facebook.com/hopehouseireland”