After a very exciting weekend in the Republic of Ireland, I was invited to the other part of the Island, Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom, by “Hope 4 ME & Fibro”. Thomas McParland was kind enough to come to Dublin to pick me up and drive me to Newry, the first stop in Northern Ireland. Andy Hugh, a determined activist and parent of a 17 year old daughter with ME / CFS, was in the car as well. We spent the 1.5 hour drive talking and enjoying the wonderful scenery.
When we arrived, we were welcomed by the wonderful and infamous Joan McParland who made all of the arrangements for her visit. She is one of the most organized persons that I have ever and with her oversight, the two days in Northern Ireland went flawlessly. Joan gave me a red “HOPE” heart to start the evening off. In Newry I had the honor to meet the other wonderful members of the Hope 4 ME & Fibro team of Northern Ireland.
My presentation was open to the public with a focus on giving hope and research updates. Like many of our meetings, half of the guests were patients and the other half were parents/caregivers. Some guests traveled from Belfast to attend the meeting in Newry with the intent to attend again the next day in Belfast. Present at the talk was also Lord Mayor of Newry. (Photo: Lord Mayor Gillian Fitzpatrick, Linda Tannenbaum, Andy Hugh) There were many questions and answers and the audience was fully engaged and appreciative. Many attendees commented how much hope they feel.
The Hope 4 ME &Fibro team did a wonderful job in organizing this meeting. They surprised me presenting OMF with a $ 1,000 over-sized check and a beautiful cake with both of our similar HOPE logos on it. They had flyers and education packets for the attendees and dessert and tea was served.
After the talk, the whole team went to see the Hope 4 ME & Fibro office. We took some pictures and Joan hired me as her new secretary…well for at least 5 minutes or so.
Joan is an angel, an ME / CFS patient for many years, yet helpful to so many others and the force keeping momentum moving ahead. Joan took Andy Hugh and I to meet her lovely mother and son. By 10:30pm Andy and I finally stopped for a quick dinner after an exciting and full day. It is so heart-warming to be welcomed into peoples’ lives. I am enjoying building international friendships.
All in all, it was a very fulfilling and inspiring day and visit, and I was touched by the warmhearted welcome of Joan and many others. Thank you to our Northern Ireland ME / CFS friends for their invitation, splendid organization, and donation! Welcome to our Team OMF!