This story begins with a young man who lived amongst the mountains and peat bogs in a beautiful small Island which lies off the rugged west coast of Ireland, known as Achill Island.
The time was around 1955 when like four out of five children born in Ireland at that time, John (not his real name) decided to make the long and uncertain journey across the sea to England. He had a plan and a dream… he would find work, maybe get married, have a family, settle and be happy here. He wanted to support his family back home in Achill and to send much needed money so they could survive and they would feel very proud of the great success he made of his life.
Settling here in Leeds John found work in construction and on the railway network and he earned a good living. Saving what he could and also ensuring that his family back home were cared for he was happy and that went well for many years. Despite attending dances and various social events around Leeds and being a quiet and shy man John never found the wife or had the family that he longed for he remained a confirmed bachelor in his new life but was happy and contented and had many friends.
Following retirement from his long working career John kept himself to himself and would travel around Leeds daily on the bus and was well-known and loved people in the community who would comment on what a lovely man and that he doesn’t like a fuss, likes to keep himself and his flat immaculate with trinkets of his old home in Achill always evident.
We met John around 17 years ago when he approached us for help with his pension. Regular visits with his dedicated Support Worker meant that we would help when he needed us which wasn’t too often as he is a very private and independent man. When an opportunity arose to join us on a trip to Mayo and because John hadn’t been back in many, many years he was delighted to come along. He was reunited with his family and had a wonderful time.
More years have passed and sadly John has needed more and more help from us recently since his diagnosis of Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia and we of course are happy to support him wherever we can. Care Support Worker Emma who knows John very well has noticed a decline in his health recently and was concerned. Obtaining John’s permission Emma decided to try to track down his family in Achill to let them know of his health and since it has been many years since they last saw him on what would now be his last trip back home.
Before we take this story any further, anyone here who has tried to trace a person’s family in Ireland will know that public records aren’t always…ahem… shall we say… the best kept records..! Un-phased by this fact Emma decided that she would persevere and so set about looking up the family name in local libraries, phone records and the-like and since that didn’t prove fruitful she proceeded to contact all the local parishes in Achill… then the local post office… parish hall… Midwest Radio… oh and even a Mayo parish newsletter! all proving unfruitful. So instead of giving up Emma thought and thought and decided her last option before she gave up would be to phone An Garda Síochána – Ireland’s National Police Service, and that’s exactly what she did and they were wonderful!
We are delighted to confirm that we did track down a surviving family member, a nephew of John who is now in regular contact and it’s really lifted John’s spirits knowing that he has family looking out for him in his twilight years… and of course he also knows that he’ll always have Emma and her great detective skills and wonderful caring nature….
So that we can continue to help John and people like him we rely heavily on public support please help us by donating whatever you can here: http://bit.ly/2mWrdpW
(The details of this story are all accurate, names have been changed to protect identity)