(Above) Keeva Abbott, centre, with John Sampson and Paddy Connors.

Skydive raises €30,000 and counting for Midlands Hospice

A skydive to honour the memory of two south Offaly people who passed away prematurely last year from cancer has raised €30,000 for the Midlands Hospice building fund in a month.

The skydive on April 10 is being held to celebrate the lives of two much respected members of the GAA community in Clareen; the Seir Kieran GAA club stalwart and well-known referee Kevin Abbott, who passed away in November, and Lusmagh native Rosaleen Connors, who lost her battle against cancer last August.

Kevin's daughter Keeva, his former refereeing colleague John Sampson and, Rosaleen's husband Paddy are participating in the skydive, which takes place on the day of Keeva's 21st birthday.

Speaking to the Offaly Independent this week, one or the organisers of the event, Seir Kieran vice chairman Aidan O'Neill noted that the amount raised so far is almost three times the original target. However, with a week to go everyone involved is eager that the final amount will be as high as possible.

“Now that we are in the middle of it we want to try and spread it as far and as wide as we can. I suppose the big thing is to try and get the message out to people in Westmeath, Longford and Laois. The focus isn't just on Offaly. It's not just an Offaly charity, it's the Midlands Hospice. We'd love it if our friends in the GAA and beyond were to help us out, because it is something that all of the four counties need.

“I knew when the people in question came on board to do what they are doing there would be a good response. To jump out of a plan is such a scary thing to do and very few people would be willing to do it. They are great people with great courage. I think it has really resonated with people, certainly in south Offaly, where our base is as a GAA community. It's been joyous to see how well supported it has been. We would like to see the other parts of Offaly, which have an awareness of it now, jumping on board and supporting it, “ he said.

Thanking the people of south Offaly for their generosity, Mr O'Neill added that the huge response is a testament to the high regard that Kevin and Rosaleen and their families are held in their community.

“Out of something very sad, it is something positive and a distraction to us all through a difficult period.”

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