Dad's memory drives UTV's Joe as he launches funding push to build holiday cabin for disabled
UTV presenter Joe Mahon has kickstarted a fundraising drive to build a holiday home in Donegal for disabled people.
Londonderry's Hoist Away organisation launched its Pound Appeal yesterday with a little help from the broadcaster, who says his late disabled father would have loved it.
A target of £150,000 has been set to build the contemporary cabin in Culdaff, Inishowen, which will have specialist equipment to help disabled people and their families enjoy a relaxing break.
"The way I see it is that so many people will benefit from the cabin," Mr Mahon, who presents Lesser Spotted Ulster, said.
"It would be great for anybody who has been incapacitated or needs this level of support because it would be fitted with all these various devices.
"So we figured if everyone could donate a pound, that would be great, and we could reach our target quicker."
It's a cause close to Mr Mahon's heart because his dad suffered with multiple sclerosis and needed 24-hour care.
"My own father Jim suffered from MS for a long time, in fact I think he was one of the longest survivors of the condition, having had it over 30 years," Mr Mahon said
"He required constant care and help to get through each day as he could do nothing for himself.
"Life would have been impossible for my mother, who was his main carer, had it not been for the range of lifts, hoists and other equipment necessary to move him from one spot in the house to another.
"But it was pretty rough on my mother, even with the help from the family. A holiday home like this would have been great for them both."
In the last 10 years of his life Jim could only move his head, but was able to use equipment that utilised his breath to help him stay as independent as possible.
Being given a break from the round-the-clock care would have been greatly appreciated by Joe's parents.
"They were both afforded some respite from the daily grind whenever he was taken into a residential nursing home or into hospital, where he always received the utmost care from dedicated people, added Mr Mahon.
"However, to have had a facility such as the log cabin, where they would have been able to enjoy a holiday together with the necessary equipment, would have been a great boost to their morale and that of the whole family."
Limavady actor and former Leeds United football player Peter Mitchell was also at the launch.
He said: "I believe so much more needs to be done to help people who are disabled, who rely on others throughout their day-to-day life.
"I would just like to ask everyone to please donate one pound. Let's get Hoist Away's Pound Appeal for the Culdaff Cabin up and running and let's help people who need this specialist holiday accommodation."
Donations to the Pound Appeal can be made at www.facebook.com/hoistaway and through PayPal at firstname.lastname@example.org