Soldiers bring Christmas joy to sick children for the last time before barracks closes

Aileen Hahesy

Aileen Hahesy

The soldiers of Kickham Barracks in Clonmel spread the Christmas cheer to sick children at South Tipperary General Hospital with a special delivery of toys.

It was a heart warming yet poignant occasion at the hospital’s Paediatric Unit as this is the last year the soldiers will be based in Clonmel due to the Government’s decision to close Kickham Barracks by the end of next March.

Company Quartermaster James Daly and three colleagues arrived at the busy children’s ward last Thursday morning laden down with boxes of toys purchased at local toy stores.

The Paediatric Unit was full to capacity on the day as the soldiers handed out parcels to surprised and delighted children, some of whom are undergoing treatment for cancer.

Clinical Nurse Manager Olivia Buckley had a list of the patients according to their ages ready for the soldiers when they arrived to dispense the toys that were purchased to suit all ages of children.

She said the gifts were very much appreciated by theirs patients and staff.

“We are delighted. It helps to create a Christmas atmosphere in the ward. It’s nice to give the children something when they are sick in hospital,” she said.

The soldiers brought enough gifts for the nursing staff to hand out to new patients arriving at the unit throughout the Chrismas holiday period.

Funds for the toys were raised through donations from the Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers and Privates messes at Kickham Barracks.

Company Quartermaster Daly paid tribute to the local stores for their support when purchasing the toys, particularly the Knick Knack Shop on O’Connell Street, which gave them that bit extra for the appeal.

He said this was the second year of their Christmas toy delivery to the children at South Tipperary General Hospital.

“As this is the last year the Barracks is going to be in town, we put in a little extra effort to the toy appeal,” added the Quartermaster, who will retire from the Defence Forces in February.