The Tipperary Branch of the Irish Wheelchair Association enjoys one of the most active social lives thanks to chairman, John Ryan, originally from Fethard and now living in Moycarkey.
John was first introduced to the IWA in 1995 when he offered his service as a volunteer worker. This was the start of a long-standing relationship that continues to the present day. From 1996 to 1998 John continued working with the IWA in Tipperary while employed as a support worker with FÁS. When this scheme finished he joined the Tipperary IWA voluntary committee and was elected chairman in 2003, a position he still holds today. In the same year, 2003, John also formed a subsidiary group called the ‘JR Gang’, which promoted social activities for IWA members. This group is mainly responsible for the much-improved social life and integration that members enjoy today. In 2010 John was elected to the national board of the Irish Wheelchair Association.
The Tipperary Branch is almost 40 years in existence and is run by volunteers who give their time freely to help people with disabilities to get out and take part in normal activities such as weekend breaks, annual holiday, shopping trips, fishing, sports fixtures, concerts, dances and other social events, that may otherwise prove impossible due to transport limitations etc.
The group also advise and help make premises wheelchair-friendly, such as Cloneen Sports and Social Centre, where the committee installed an accessible toilet when first approached. This centre in Cloneen now hosts many of the group’s social dinner dances and events.
The Tipperary Branch is now one of the most successful in the country and this is due in no small way to the huge level of support and encouragement received from the volunteers, community and families of members who also help with fundraising activities that make it all possible.