‘Manscaping’ was the mission for Ger O’Dea, Pat Harrington and Martin Coughlan when they arrived at the Just for Men Hair Salon in Cork at 8am on Tuesday December 1st. Ger (HSE National Ambulance Service Community Engagement Manager) Pat (Southern Region Garda Dog Unit) and Martin (Third Officer Cork City Fire Service) were on a mission - preparing to lose the ‘Mo’ from Movember. Having grown their moustaches to fund raise during November they were looking forward to the ‘scaping’ but more importantly were delighted with the amount of money they have raised so far for the Little Blue Heroes Foundation.
“It looks like we – inclusive of everyone involved - will have raised over €15,000 of our €20,000 target which is great,” said a freshly shaven Ger . “That of course covers not just our efforts but many others who became involved. I have done Movember for several years and each time it’s a great few weeks as you can have a bit of craic seeing what greets you every morning in the mirror but you also know that the funds you are raising contribute in a really worthwhile way.”
Little Blue Heroes
Little Blue Heroes Foundation is a not-for-profit charity operated entirely by volunteers made up of Garda members/staff, retired Garda members, their families, friends and civic minded people from communities. It aims to help families in need from local communities in Ireland who have children undergoing long-term medical treatment for serious illness.
Pat explains that the name ‘Little Blue Heroes’ came about “when we found that the vast amount of the children we support have a strong fascination with police uniform, equipment, vehicles, Garda units, etc. This has even led some of the children to make a wish to become an Honorary Garda and become part of the Garda family. As heroes to us with the battles they face, these children have become our Little Blue Heroes.”
Little Blue Mo
Pat who tragically lost his 10 year old son Conor following a valiant battle against a serious illness four years ago has a deep personal connection to the Little Blue Heroes Foundation. Ger explained that “when Pat told me over a cup of coffee that he was going to do Movember in Conor’s name I was on board straight away, Little Blue Mo was born and it ‘grew’ from there to involve Martin Coughlan of Cork City Fire Brigade and members of the other frontline and voluntary services.
“Obviously there were many more involved and between us we encouraged various individuals within home and work communities to become involved. I was delighted that within the National Ambulance Service our own Medical Director Prof Cathal O’Donnell was among those who joined in.
“It was a bit of fun and craic and of course everyone looked different – we became the three amigos! I must admit I ended up with a particularly seventies look especially with hair as none of us could get to the barber of hairdressers during the month!”
Having contributed to the recent months to the Little Blue Heroes activities by adding “green lights” through the involvement of HSE Ambulances and staff, Ger has personally witnessed the powerful impact the Foundation has on the lives of children, their families and communities.
With the overall theme of Movember having evolved in recent years, Ger adds that “the focus now is on wellness as well as cancer awareness. We even had fire fighter Donna Murphy (Cork County Fire Service) who over the month fundraised by running a total of 60k to mark the 60 men lost to suicide every hour globally. Within Little Blue Heroes they are expanding how they contribute so some of the funds raised will also help out with respite support for families. They will be particularly busy this month with their Christmas themed offerings. Of course, everything is done with public health guidelines to the forefront.”
Joined by Virgin Media’s Paul Byrne among several others at ‘Just for Men’ on December 1st , Ger explains that his contribution was part of the overall efforts: “There are others involved and many come from across the spectrum of emergency services – from the Fire service, Gardai , National Ambulance Service, Coastguard personnel and voluntary agencies.”
Ger expressed his gratitude to Anne Marie, the salon proprietor: “We are particularly grateful to owner Anne Marie who offered their services for free. She has supported us over a number of years and we were delighted to be her first customers in her new premises at Mahon on December 1st.”
Further donations to Little Blue Heroes are always welcome and can be done so by going to www.littleblueheroes.org/donate