ABBEYLEIX turned out in force to remember lost loved ones and raise funds for cancer charities.
It was a remarkable weekend as huge crowds supported the ‘Mad Hatters’ event with a variety of colourful fundraisers, ranging from a fire brigade pump push to a 5km fun run/walk, a family fun day, a truck run and much more.
Paralympics swimming star Nicole Turner was among the special guests over the weekend, which was organised by the family of the late David Pratt from Abbeyleix. The only son of Roy and Edith Pratt, David sadly passed away at 26 following a courageous battle with leukaemia and would have marked his 50th birthday on Sunday 5 March. His family generously decided to mark the occasion with a weekend fundraiser for cancer charities.
The main organisers included David’s sister Janet Stewart, who lives in Mountmellick and is a regular volunteer and supporter of worthy charities. The slogan for the weekend was ‘Abbeyleix Unites against Cancer’.
Many people wore colourful hats or headgear during the ‘Mad Hatters’ weekend, to show their solidarity and empathy with cancer patients who often wear hats after losing their hair during chemotherapy treatment.
The weekend began with a very moving ecumenical service of remembrance at St Michael and All Angels Church of Ireland, celebrated by Canon Patrick Harvey and Fr Gerard Ahern PP. People brought photographs of their lost loved ones to the service, where there was a wall of remembrance and a poignant memory tree for messages.
Nicole led a 5km family run/walk on the Saturday in aid of the Bone Marrow for Leukaemia Trust, with medals for the first 100 people to cross the finish line and chocolate medals for children. A lively family fun day at the Manor Hotel, with games and face-painting for children, was followed that night with dancing to Laois band Transmitter.
Abbeyleix fire brigade brought out the crowds again on Sunday with a well-supported sponsored pump push in aid of the Irish Cancer Society.
With thousands of euros already collected, fundraising will be kept open until November, as local woman and Pratt family friend Pamela Moran will run the New York marathon in David’s name.
All funds raised in Laois will stay in the county, particularly to fund cancer night nurses. The Pratt family covered the cost of insurance for the weekend’s events, so that all funds would go directly to the charities involved.
The family was overwhelmed with the kindness of everyone who supported the event and thanks all who contributed so generously.