Open Door’s Suzanne Cox reflects on life before and after she got involved with the group
SUZANNE COX TELLS MARY FOGARTY ABOUT GROWING UP WITH PONIES, THE COMPUTER REVOLUTION, LIFE IN GREYSTONES, AND OPEN DOOR.
SUZANNE Cox was working at the start of the complete technological revolution we have witnessed in our lifetimes.
For the past seven-and-a-half years she has been Development Officer at Open Door Day Care Centre where her role includes focussing on PR and fundraising.
However, in the early 1980s she was working in computer programming.
She had a high powered career which she loved and stayed in until her first child was one. ‘I wanted to be at home with the children,’ she said.
However, she always kept a toe dipped in the professional world with things she could do from home or in short sessions such as teaching computers in local schools, doing reports for consultants and so on.
‘It’s a struggle. It’s hard to stay at home or go out to work,’ said Suzanne on motherhood and managing a career. She always also had involvement with Open Door. Her mother Mary Hackett was a founding member and is still a trustee. Mary and her friends, the late Olive Quinn and Padraigin Hughes, founded the centre in Bray in 1984.
Greystones girl Helen Clarke had a brain hemorrhage, leaving her disabled and with no local facility suitable for her on a day to day basis.
‘Helen’s aging parents asked the Eastern Health Board what was out there for them. They were told the best thing to do was put her in a home in Rathdrum.’
She was the first member of Open Door and still comes once a week. ‘I was there helping paint Fatima House, which probably wasn’t an ideal building,’ said Suzanne who was a teenager when this was all starting. Meanwhile, computers were a burgeoning phenomenon.
‘I remember the first portable computer, it was like the Singer sewing machine,’ said Suzanne. ‘We had no internet and of course no mobile phones.’
She trained at the Irish Computer Training School and was a big fan of ‘ Tomorrow’s World,’ the programme which showed us all the gadgets to come in the future.
While it didn’t envisage the iPhone, Suzanne recalls seeing a presenter showing off the CD. ‘He was saying one day we’ll fit everything on this disc, and he started putting jam on it saying it would withstand that abuse!’ she said.
At that time, prior to getting married and having four children, she wouldn’t have imagined she would be working at Open Door some day.
But she loves her work and is passionate about the place.
‘My job is essentially a sales job,’ she said. ‘It’s selling Open Door, selling the idea of getting people to sponsor it but I’m not looking for commission!
‘It’s easy to do because I believe very much in Open Door. There’s nobody who works here or volunteers here that doesn’t believe in it.’
She almost fell into the job. Her predecessor was leaving, and Suzanne heard about the vacancy. She was interviewed by the panel, was successful and has been there ever since. It’s a challenging role, as the money simply has to come in to finance the operation.
‘We have to raise money to run all of our activities,’ said Suzanne. So that includes supplies, equipment, parallel bars and much more. ‘You can’t scrimp on those things.’ A new bus is coming in January, thanks to the National Lottery.
‘We were very, very lucky this year. We applied for the HSE National Lottery funding for a bus and got it so we’ll be replacing our oldest bus in January.’
Aside from all of that, Suzanne is a Greystones resident and huge fan of the area where she lives with her husband Dec, twins Ben and Sam, Nicky, Jodie and the two dogs, right in the town.
‘I love Greystones, I absolutely love it. It’s got everything, it’s just fantastic. I love my job but there’s nothing nicer than coming home from work, grabbing the dogs and heading for the beach or the woods.’
It’s a very different place now than the sleepy village where Suzanne grew up hacking ponies around the countryside. ‘We moved to Greystones when I was four.’
The population has increased, and housing estates are located where once were fields. ‘You could ride your horses up and down the Main Street,’ said Suzanne.
She got her first pony at the age of 11. ‘Dad bought a pony for me and my sister to share.
I rode her from Greystones to Brennanstown in April 1974. I rode her in the novice showjumping, which we won.’ A couple of ‘old horsey men’ said ‘ that pony’s very fat, put her on a diet.’
However, another man said that the pony might be in foal.
‘I rode her up to the vet, who confirmed that yes she was in foal and told me to lead her home!’
‘Surprise’ the pony was born weeks later and became a beloved member of the family.
‘When she was being weaned I slept outside in a tent and she put her head inside the tent on my pillow,’ said Suzanne. Today, she said she is very grateful to everyone who supports Open Door, including her family who come on board to help out all the time for background work and are her loyal and dedicated ‘right hand men.’
Suzanne Cox with Dickie Rock who played in the 10th Reggie Corrigan Golf Classic for Open Door.
Suzanne with her mother Mary (left), first member Helen (front), Aisling Gall and Lena Lawler.