By Damian Dolan
West London GAA club St Clarets is challenging its members, and all Gaelic football lovers, to put their GAA skills to the test – and raise funds for NHS staff at Hillingdon Hospital at the same time.
The Hayes club has launched the ‘Gaelic In Your Garden – 500 Solo Challenge’ to raise money in aid of staff welfare at the West London hospital, as they lead the fight against Covid-19.
To take part, first complete 500 solos (four steps between each solo) in your garden, either individually or as a family, and then donate £5 to Justgiving page set up by the club. Finally, post a video of yourself completing the challenge.
The fundraising idea is the brainchild of the club’s PRO, physiotherapy student, Ciara Hession.
All proceeds will go to the ‘Hillingdon Hospital Staff Welfare Appeal’ – set up to provide “essential basic supplies” for NHS staff at the hospital, who are working long hours and are unable to get the shops.
So far, the appeal has raised more than £13,000, and St Clarets are keen to do their bit.
For St Clarets, the only GAA club in the Borough of Hillingdon, it’s a cause close to the heart of many of its members.
“We have so many female members of our club, mums, wives and partners of past and present players, who are working on the front line at Hillingdon Hospital,” said club secretary Tadhg Lee.
Another member of our Over 80’s team Club President Rose McCarthy showing us how it’s done !
— St Clarets GFC (@StClaretsGAA) April 24, 2020
“They are doing outstanding work in such difficult times, particularly as we all know that North West London is a hot spot for the virus.
“On top of this though, our club, based in Hayes, serves the entire borough of Hillingdon, and it’s the hospital that our members use routinely in good times and bad.
“So it is really important to us that we show solidarity with the hospital and its staff at this unprecedented time of crisis.”
The club are calling on all their members and friends, young and old, past and present, to roll in behind the club for this fantastic venture.
Second attempt at our solo challenge by our youngest Claretian Méabh Lee ! Soloing on both feet and she’s not even one yet !! If Méabh can do it so can you !! #gaelicinyourgarden #500solos #stclaretsabú pic.twitter.com/dXvmvoPbD2
— St Clarets GFC (@StClaretsGAA) April 20, 2020
Ciara is steeped in the green and white hoops of the Clarets. Her late grandfather, Denis McCarthy, founded the club back in 1975, and her grandmother Rose McCarthy is the club’s honorary Life President.
Her father Martin is one of the club’s all-time greats on the field and coaches underage boys and girls teams, ably assisted by his wife, club treasurer and stalwart, Marie.
Tadgh added: “We are very proud and grateful to Ciara for coming up with such a novel fundraising idea and it really highlights the importance of young blood with fresh ideas in GAA administration.”