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A Day In The Life: Martina Jennings

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MOTHER AND DAUGHTER Martina Jennings is pictured with her daughter, Rachel. Pic: Trish Forde

“I’M an early riser, and always have been since the days when I drove to Dublin for work three times a week. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays I get up at 5.30am to head from home in Hollymount to the gym in Claremorris with my husband, Jarlath.
We pick up a good friend of ours, Kevin Connelly, along the way!
As CEO of the Mayo/Roscommon Hospice, I need a lot of energy and stamina. Going to the gym before work has made a huge difference to me in that regard. We’re home at 7.15am, have our breakfast, and then I’m set for the day after that gorgeous first cup of coffee!
Since I started working with the Hospice, I’m also around most mornings to bring my son, Iarla, to school. I love being able to do that, to have that time with him.
Every day is different working for the Hospice, but most mornings I get started at our offices in Knock. We look after 900 families across Mayo and Roscommon, providing them with financial support and pallative care, and it’s my job to make sure everything runs smoothly.
This morning I was in Castlebar to check on the progress of the new Hospice building, which we’re hoping will be completed by April or May of 2019.
I was also meeting a potential Hospice donor there to show them around the site, and took a video of the construction work for our social media accounts, to show people how things are progressing.
I try and get around to visit the Mayo/Roscommon Hospice shops as much as possible. There are 12 in total and one day last week I got to the Castlebar, Ballina, Belmullet and Claremorris shops. I really feel those visits are so important.
Because we run those shops with 20 percent staff and 80 percent volunteers, I’m always conscious of meeting those people as much as I can.
The simple reality is that we can’t provide pallative care to the families that need it without the shops and the volunteers. I still can’t believe the amount of people, young and old, who stand at church gates and organise events and do bucket collections on behalf of the Hospice.
And they do it because they know somebody who has used the service at some stage.
In the 25 years the Hospice has been in existence, 15,000 people have come through the doors.
I’m an extremely organised person. I keep three diaries, and have a ‘To Do’ list that starts with one page on Monday morning and is usually up to three pages by Wednesday.
By Friday evening I’d have everything done on those three pages, but I’d also ask myself, ‘Was that a good week? Could I have done more?’
I’m a perfectionist, and I’m fierce hard on myself, but I’ve learned to delegate too.
Still,  in this job the buck stops with me, and I have a huge responsibility to the patients and the staff.
In the evenings I try and switch off for a few hours, but there might be a cheque presentation or a fundraiser to attend too. That’s all part and parcel of the job, and I find you’re walking on air after meeting volunteers and fundraisers who work so hard on behalf of the Hospice.
I meet so many people and families who are going through tough times, but I also meet the best and nicest people and families who are doing so much to help them.
I’m a disaster for going to sleep at night! I love reading news, local news, politics, American politics — all on my iPhone. But I have great eyesight and great hearing — I miss nothing!
At the weekends, if my daughter Rachel is home from college, I’d always make time to cook dinner and catch up with her, Iarla and Jarlath. That’s very important to me.
And so is visiting my dad on a Sunday.
I love my job, I really do. And what’s blown me away since I started is how the people of Mayo and Roscommon take a pride in providing the Hospice service. This is their service and they fund-raise and drive it. I’m only the caretaker.”

In conversation with Mike Finnerty


Quickfire Questions
Martina Jennings

If money was no object, what would you do all day?
Travel and volunteer (I know that’s two!)

Tell us something about yourself we don’t know? I won All-Ireland Most Promising Young Actress in 1988 (still promising).

What’s the most unusual thing you’ve eaten? Snails in Lourdes years ago

Where’s your favourite place in the world?
The West of Ireland (we have the best coastline and the most generous of people with the best sense of humour).

What makes you angry? Bad manners and negativity.

First hero? My parents.

Name three things that are always in your fridge? Milk, smoked salmon, yogurts.

What makes you nervous? Watching my kids grow up and realising I need to start letting go.

Favourite TV show? The Crown.

Who’s the most famous person you’ve met? VP Joe Biden.

Best holiday? Italy with family and friends a few years ago.

What do you miss most about being a kid? Freedom.

What’s your most prized possession?
My kids.

Best advice you ever got?
You’ll always regret what you didn’t do rather than what you did.

Describe yourself in three words?
Loyal, passionate, stubborn.

How do you unwind? Read or meet up with friends and family.

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