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Coronavirus: Fermanagh school tributes to former students serving on frontline in crisis


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Dean Caughey

Dean Caughey

Ciara Boyle

Ciara Boyle

Mum and daughter Rosie and Niamh Sweeney

Mum and daughter Rosie and Niamh Sweeney

Respiratory physiotherapist Amekia Foy

Respiratory physiotherapist Amekia Foy

Dean Caughey

A Co Fermanagh school has joined others across Northern Ireland in paying tribute to former students who are working on the frontline during the coronavirus pandemic.

St Kevin's College has been honouring key worker past pupils by showcasing the very valuable work they are doing on its Facebook page.

Those featured in the daily social media posts are now NHS workers and health professionals in various hospitals and care homes across Ireland and the UK.

St Kevin's College was formed in 2017 following the amalgamation of St Comhghall's Secondary School, Lisnaskea, and St Eugene's College in nearby Roslea.

Principal Gary Kelly said the Lisnaskea-based school wanted to recognise the many who are now on the front line fight against Covid-19.

"The idea came about after conversations we had when the school was donating and delivering PPE to the local GP practice and care homes at the start of the coronavirus outbreak," he said.

"We asked ourselves if there was anything else we could do to honour these outstanding people.

"We then came up with the idea of showcasing them and the excellent work they are doing on the school's Facebook page."

Among those featured is Amekia Foy (23) from Brookeborough, who attended both of the former schools and left in 2014 to study physiotherapy at Teesside University in Middlesbrough.

She is now a senior respiratory physiotherapist at the town's James Cook University Hospital, where 300 patients have recovered from coronavirus.

"Right now I'm working with Covid patients who have recovered and I help them with their rehabilitation to make sure they are ready to go home," she explained.

"With so many people now beating the virus there is more of a demand on me and my colleagues and I hope that is a sign that things are on the up.

"At the start of all this it was very frightening going into work every day as we didn't know what to expect, but now as time goes on I don't feel as scared."

Former St Comhghall's student Dean Caughey (27) left his home in Maguiresbridge in 2010 and is currently a final year nursing student at Manchester Metropolitan University.

Like thousands of others, he is already putting his skills to use in the Covid-19 battle having been deployed to the front line at Manchester Royal Infirmary earlier this month.

"I still have my dissertation to write by the end of May to finish my degree so whenever I get home from work I have to crack into that," he said.

"I never imagined I would start my nursing career tackling a virus like this but we have been trained for it so we know what we are doing."

Back in Fermanagh, mother-of-two Ciara Boyle (43) is deputy ward sister in Ward 8 at the South West Acute Hospital in Enniskillen.

After attending both schools, Ciara went on to complete a nursing degree at Queen's University.

"The respect and recognition being shown by the community who send us messages saying they are keeping us in their prayers has been really overwhelming," she said. "We couldn't do this job without them."

For Rosie (53) and Niamh Sweeney (21) from Roslea, taking on Covid-19 is a family affair.

The mother and daughter left St Eugene's in 1983 and 2017 respectively and both work across the border at Mullinahinch Nursing Home in Co Monaghan, where a number of residents have died from the virus.

"I have been working in the home for 12 years and Niamh joined me almost three years ago but she is still hoping to study nursing at Queen's University in the future," Rosie said.

The two women have first-hand experience of coronavirus, having just recovered from it themselves.

Belfast Telegraph