Former Irish Lion and Irish Rugby Legend, and longtime Barretstown Ambassador, Gordon D’Arcy, is taking on his own challenge on Irish soil, cycling across the four provinces of Ireland before the final stretch to Barretstown in Co. Kildare to celebrate the 2021 British & Irish Lions Tour and raise much needed funds for Barretstown. Cycling a phenomenal 850kms around the island of Ireland, Gordon is aiming to raise vital funds for Barretstown to support the reopening of camp and ensuring that the Irish Children’s Charity that offers free, specially designed camps and programmes for children and their families living with a serious illness can continue to serve more families affected by serious illness in 2021.
Gordon’s Tour De Provinces cycle kicks off from Lansdowne RFC on July 21st, and takes in the four Rugby provinces Leinster, Munster, Connaught, and Ulster – visiting many local Irish rugby clubs and towns along the way before finishing at Barretstown on July 24th. Barretstown was delighted to reopen their gates once again in June and welcome campers and their families back to experience life changing therapeutic camp programmes in person. As a result of COVID-19, the children’s charity was forced to temporarily close their gates. In March 2020 to ensure the safety of all staff, campers, and volunteers. Barretstown launched their innovative ‘Barretstown Live’ virtual camps and continued to serve thousands of children and their families living with serious illness throughout 2020, including many who would otherwise never have been able to attend camp due to their illness. Following their recent reopening, campers can now once again enjoy a host of activities including Arts & Crafts, Drama, Lego, Adventure Games, Mini-Golf, Canoeing, Fishing, Baking and Moviemaking.
Gordon’s Route:Wednesday, 21st July Lansdowne RFC, Naas RFC, Nenagh Ormond & Garryowen RFC- Thursday, 22nd July – Galwegians RFC, Creggs RFCFriday 22nd July – Dungannon RFC & Belfast Harlequins RFC Saturday 23rd July – Dundalk RFC, Barretstown Estate
Speaking about Gordon D’Arcy’s Tour de Provinces, Dee Ahearn, CEO of Barretstown, said: “Massive thanks to Gordon for his support in helping the team at Barretstown rebuild the lives of children, and their families, affected by serious illness in a safe, fun and supportive environment, through our life changing therapeutic camps and programmes. Childhood stops for children living with serious illness, and thanks to the help and support of Ambassadors like Gordon, Barretstown can Press Play on childhood.”
Speaking about the importance of reopening camp, Gordon D’Arcy said: “Barretstown is a magical place running therapeutic camps that focus on what the campers can do and not what they can’t do, giving campers incredible confidence and helping build their self-esteem. The moment I walked through the gates of Barretstown, twenty years ago, I was captured by that Barretstown magic, and I am delighted to be taking on the Tour de Provinces challenge and getting lots of children from clubs across Ireland to help fundraise for less fortunate children. All the rugby clubs are going to do a bit of the cycle with me, and anyone that wants to support the Tour can logon onto The Tour de Provinces Just Giving page and show their support.”
Due to the Covid-19 crisis the charity has had to cancel or postpone many of its key fundraising initiatives. These events provide crucial income for Barretstown which relies on the public to provide 97% of the funds that make their work possible. As a result, in 2020 the charity suffered an income shortfall of €1,200,000. Barretstown did, however, continue to provide life-changing programmes and services through the new ‘Barretstown Live’ virtual camps, allowing them to continue to serve over 6,900 children and their families, during a time when they were more isolated than ever before.
Members of the public can support Gordon’s fundraising challenge by visiting: www.Barretstown.org/tourdeprovinces.
Pictured is Gordon D’Arcy and Dee Ahearn, CEO of Barretstown
Pic Credit INPHO/Bryan Keane