Noth­ing holds back de­ter­mined Mary

Bray People - - News -

‘ANY­THING is pos­si­ble, you just have to want it bad enough. Things have moved on and you re­ally can do what­ever you want if you try. As the say­ing goes - if at first you don’t suc­ceed, try, try and try again!’

De­ter­mined Kil­coole woman Mary Napier, who was sent to Hun­gary for three weeks in 1989 af­ter a mas­sive fundrais­ing drive for treat­ment to over­come the re­stric­tions of cere­bral palsy, has re­cently been con­ferred with a de­gree at UCD in So­cial Sci­ence.

Over IR£30,000 was raised in the com­mu­nity al­most 20 years ago for the in­ten­sive phys­io­ther­apy treat­ment at the world fa­mous Peto Clinic and less than two years later, for­merly wheel­chair-bound Mary was walk­ing with the help of a stick.

Stu­dents from Mary’s school, St. Thomas’, were amongst those who pulled out all the stops at the time to help a fel­low pupil’s dream come true. They ran no-uni­form days, hill walks and dis­cos to help the 15-year-old on her way to Bu­dapest.

Kil­coole’s Fr. Ea­monn Cot­ter was the chair­man of the com­mit­tee and the driv­ing force be­hind the project, along with other ded­i­cated mem­bers, in­clud­ing Dan Hayes, Nick Eo­gan, Phyl­lis Barry, Jim Bro­phy and oth­ers.

Her mum and dad Josie and Jackie and brother Martin from The Green in Kil­coole all made the trip with her and were all over­come with joy when she be­gan to be able to walk for more than a few steps af­ter the in­cred­i­ble jour­ney.

‘If it means I can walk a longer dis­tance at the end of it I think it will be worth it,’ said Mary at the time. Not only can she walk, but she has been able to drive since she was a teenager and got her li­cence when she was in fifth year.

Doc­tors had told her as she grew in to her teens that hope of the young woman walk­ing again was slim, but Mary’s be­lief in her­self and the en­cour­age­ment of her fam­ily, friends and neigh­bours as well as the in­ten­sive treat­ment at the Peto In­sti­tute proved them wrong, as did the work of her phys­io­ther­a­pist and re­me­dial gym­nast, lo­cal man Alan Priestly.

Mary was al­ways in main­stream ed­u­ca­tion, hav­ing sat in on classes at the lo­cal pri­mary school from as young as two and a half for just a few hours ev­ery day.

Fol­low­ing grad­u­a­tion and a suc­cess­ful Leav­ing Cert and Group Cert, she de­cided to study at Bray Se­nior Col­lege. From there she went on to work as a man­ager at Dublin South FM in Rath­farn­ham, where her con­sid­er­able or­gan­i­sa­tional skills and per­son­able way of deal­ing with other peo­ple be­came ap­par­ent.

A num­ber of years as a com­mu­nity em­ploy­ment su­per­vi­sor fol­lowed, where she co­or­di­nated the work of the par­tic­i­pants with a view to help­ing them progress in to full time em­ploy­ment.

She en­joyed the job im­mensely, but was dealt a dis­ap­point­ing blow when she was made re­dun­dant as part of a se­ries of cut­backs in the sec­tor in 2003.

Char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally, how­ever, Mary faced the de­vel­op­ment head on and saw it as an op­por­tu­nity to try some­thing new rather than a set­back in her life.

Fol­low­ing an ac­cess course for those re­turn­ing to col­lege, Mary be­gan the de­gree pro­gramme in UCD, with the help of an as­sis­tant who would sit with her at lec­tures, take notes and email them to her in the evening.

She said that go­ing to lec­tures is the most im­por­tant part of the ex­pe­ri­ence for any stu­dent. ‘I rely par­tic­u­larly on mem­ory,’ she said, adding that the de­liv­ery of the lec­turer is more use­ful than notes.

In terms of ac­ces­si­bil­ity, she said that UCD is im­prov­ing but there are some small changes still to be made, for ex­am­ple heavy doors in some of the older build­ings.

Al­though short on free time, with com­mut­ing and study­ing to han­dle, Mary still man­ages to let her hair down and meets up with friends for the oc­ca­sional drink in ei­ther Boot­er­stown or Grey­stones.

She can also be seen cycling her three-wheel bike around Kil­coole, Grey­stones, Bray or even Glendalough. ‘That’s a form of en­joy­ment as well as ex­er­cise com­bined,’ she said. She also en­joys work­ing with com­put­ers and surf­ing the net, as well as de­sign­ing web sites, one of which she built for Dublin South FM dur­ing her time at the sta­tion.

Mary’s proud par­ents and brother were by her side when she re­ceived her hard­earned de­gree at UCD last Mon­day, but the road does not end there as she will soon be un­der­tak­ing a Mas­ters De­gree in So­cial Sci­ence in the health and ill­ness


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