A PLACE FOR REFLECTION Pictured at the new Mayo/Roscommon Hospice building in Castlebar sitting in one of the pods funded by the David Gavin Emergency Fund and in memory of him were, from left: David’s parents Angela and Michael Gavin; David’s partner Ciara O’Malley; Martina Jennings, CEO Mayo/Roscommon Hospice and Fr John McCormack, curate, Breaffy. Pic: Michael Donnelly
Two years after his tragic death in Canada, David Gavin’s memory was honoured at the new Mayo/Roscommon Hospice building in Castlebar.
David’s second anniversary Mass was held at the hospice while pods in the grounds dedicated to David’s memory were unveiled and blessed.
The pods were purchased with the remaining funds from David’s search and recovery fund, which the Gavin family passed onto the hospice.
The search and recovery fund was the result of a phenomenal response around Ireland and beyond to an appeal for assistance for the search for David in Canada.
The 26-year-old Breaffy and Mayo footballer got into difficulty in waters in British Colombia after diving in off a bridge while travelling with friends on June 30, 2017.
Despite frantic immediate efforts by his friends and an exhaustive search effort in the weeks and months that followed, David’s body was not recovered.
However, the huge response to an appeal for funding facilitated a follow-up search in April, 2018 and led to the discovery of David’s body. He was brought home and buried in Breaffy Cemetery.
“Without the support and genoristy of so many people, we would not have found David, we would not be able to bring him home. We will be eternally grateful to everyone for giving us that opportunity,” said David’s father, Michael.
He said it was then a question of what to do with the funds left over from the search and recovery fund.
“We always wanted to do something positive with the money and because the wider community had generously supported us, we felt it was important to give back to something everyone could benefit from.
“So many people have availed of the Hospice and, sadly, more will in the future either themselves or with a family member. Very few people will be untouched by cancer. We felt supporting the hospice was the best way to channel the money,” added Michael.
The family have an emotional attachment to the hospice too. Michael’s late sister Catherine died, aged 23, in 1992 under the care of the hospice while his brother Frank also received palliative care before his death in 2008.
Catherine Gavin was actually the first ever recipient of care from the fledging Mayo/Roscommon Hospice, in 1992.
The family contacted Mayo/Roscommon CEO Martina Jennings about their proposal. Martina knew what she wanted to do with the money and suggested for three pods to be bought as a ‘refuge’ for family and friends of people in the hospice. The Gavin family were in full agreement.
“The pods provide a sanctuary for people who are with family members who are in the hospice to go and get out without leaving the grounds.
“People have got emotional when they were there, seeing the pods and knowing they are in David’s memory. It is the loveliest way to remember him,” said Martina.
The timing of the call from the Gavin family was also fateful, Martina Jennings explains.
“I was up in the new wing of the Harold’s Cross Hospice and they had a pod in the courtyard there and they told me it was the room used most by families. I knew I wanted one for the hospice in Castlebar.
“Our architect told me there was no money for them but I said I believe it will come. Three days later I got a call from the Gavin family. I told them about the pods and they were enthusiastic straightaway. They said they are what David would love,” she said.
Further monies left over will be channeled towards providing facilities in a room in the hospice for teenagers and children visiting.
On Sunday, June 30, a well attended Mass, celebrated by Fr John McCormack, marked the second anniversary of David’s death. Fr McCormack also blessed the pods on the day.
Speaking at the Mass, David’s partner Ciara O’Malley spoke of how important the day was.
“We will never understand why David’s time was cut so short. Instead we will cherish the time we had with him and all the happy memories.
“Today means so much to us all, being able to celebrate something good in David’s honour and seeing his legacy live on.
“Due to the extreme kindness and generosity of the community, we were so lucky to obtain the resources needed to find David when we did. This is something we will be forever grateful for.
“As a result of this we now have the opportunity to help others with the money left in the fund in David’s honour.
“The hospice offered us tremendous support in our time of need and now through David we can give something back,” said Ciara.
She also paid a loving tribute to David.
“In such a short life he gave so much and we learned so much from him. Even now in his passing he continues to help others and spread love,” added Ciara.
The new €9 million hospice building is open for viewing from July 15 to 19. Anyone who wants to view the Hospice should email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 094 9388666.
The hospice is not fully completed but is expected to be open to patients before the end of the year.