The Kerryman (South Kerry Edition) - - KERRY COMMUNITY AWARDS - By SINEAD KELLE­HER

IN just over a month, the Kerry Cork Health Link Bus will go even fur­ther than it ever dreamed, with a new bus bring­ing can­cer pa­tients from across ru­ral North Kerry to Lim­er­ick for treat­ment.

It’s a day sup­port­ers never thought they would see but eight years after it all be­gan the ser­vice is ex­pand­ing to cater for the whole county.

What started off as a sim­ple idea has changed the lives of thou­sands of can­cer pa­tients across Kerry.

Last Thurs­day the suc­cess of the Kerry Cork Health Link Bus was cel­e­brated when it was an­nounced as the over­all win­ner of this year’s Kerry Com­mu­nity Awards.

This was an hon­our that was richly de­served be­cause this vi­tal can­cer sup­port ser­vice has made a huge dif­fer­ence to the lives of can­cer pa­tients in Kerry.

The Kerry Can­cer Sup­port Group was set up in 2007 and three years later the Kerry Cork Health Link Bus was formed to bring Kerry pa­tients to Cork for can­cer treat­ment and the ser­vice has been such a suc­cess that it has now to be ex­panded to North Kerry.

The ser­vice is vi­tal for pa­tients and has been a con­stant sup­port for the thou­sands who have used it over the years, not only help­ing them travel for hospi­tal ap­point­ments but also pro­vid­ing sup­port for can­cer pa­tients through friend­ships formed on board.

The idea for the bus ser­vice came from a group of lo­cal busi­ness men and stu­dent nurses and eight years later its ef­fects are im­mea­sur­able.

For those be­hind the Kerry Cork Health Link Bus, to be se­lected as the over­all win­ner of the Kerry Com­mu­nity Awards is a huge boost but it’s just re­ward for the hard work be­hind the scenes.

“We are ab­so­lutely de­lighted. We never ex­pected it given the high cal­i­bre of groups that were short-listed. We didn’t think it would be us but it means so much,” says Man­ager, Breda Dy­land.

“This award will give a boost to our new plans with the new ser­vice for North Kerry start­ing in June.”

The cost of run­ning both bus ser­vices yearly will be al­most €250,000, all of which is raised through fundrais­ing and win­ning the Kerry Com­mu­nity Awards will not only boost their money pot but also pro­mote aware­ness of the work they do.

Most im­por­tantly it is a thank you to a won­der­ful group of vol­un­teers who have changed the lives of can­cer pa­tients in Kerry.

“Con­sid­er­ing the huge work be­hind the scenes in mak­ing this ser­vice a re­al­ity and the dis­cre­tion that ser­vice users are af­forded, the Kerry Cork Health Link Bus is an im­pres­sive model and one that hugely impressed the judges,” The Ker­ry­man Ed­i­tor and Kerry Com­mu­nity Awards Judge Kevin Hughes said.

“It is shock­ing that such a won­der­ful ser­vice re­ceives no State fund­ing and is en­tirely re­liant on fundrais­ing but the Kerry pub­lic holds the ser­vice dear to its heart and that’s why it con­tin­ues to flour­ish. Huge con­grat­u­la­tions to all in­volved.”

Bill Mor­rell pre­sent­ing Over­all Win­ners Kerry Can­cer Sup­port Trust CLG - Kerry Cork Health Link Bus Award to Rachel Har­nett, Tr­ish Kelly, Breda Dy­land, Emma Dy­land, Jason Dy­land, Dan Ho­ran, Ea­mon McAuliffe, John Kelly, Paudie Collins with Kevin Hughes...

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