PHOTOS: Double Olympic Gold Medal Winner Visits Palliative Care Unit

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Kelly Holmes with occupational therapists Bridget Scannell and Siobhan O’Grady trying on her Olympic gold medals at the Palliative Care Unit on Thursday. Photo by Dermot Crean

THE palliative care unit at UHK received a special visitor on Thursday as a double Olympic gold medal winner and athletics legend arrived with her medals.

Dame Kelly Holmes was invited to the unit by her friend Andrea O’Donoghue from Blennerville, who has organised numerous fundraisers for Kerry Hospice and the Unit.

Representing Great Britain, Kelly won a bronze medal in the 800m in the Sydney Olympics in 2000, two gold medals in the 800m and 1500m events at the Athens Olympics four years later, as well as many other honours in a glittering career on the track. She brought the medals along on her visit and some of the staff tried them on for size.

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Kelly was shown around by Andrea and the Director of Nursing, Marie O’Connell and she was very impressed with the facility and the grounds. She told us how the visit to Tralee came about.

“Andrea and I have been friends on Twitter for about five years now, enjoying a bit of banter and through her I found out about the unit here.  I promised I’d come over one day and it may have taken me a while, but I keep my promises so here I am!” said Kelly.

Andrea O’Donoghue and Kelly Holmes at the Palliative Care Unit.

Kelly knows all about the pain of losing someone to cancer and is a great supporter of hospice care.

“My mum passed away last year from Myeloma so I’m very connected with cancer charities and I’m patron of a local hospital in Kent where I live. I wanted to see the unit here as I had seen all the photos, from the beginning to the end of its construction.

“These [facilities] are so important for people, not just the patient but the family members around them, knowing that you have somewhere that will care for you and an environment where people understand. It looks lovely too, the garden looks beautiful — it’s a place of escape for the patients,” she said.

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Andrea O’Donoghue (front right) presents the proceeds of the Tony O’Donoghue Memorial Walk to Director of Nursing at the Palliative Care Unit, Marie O’Connell. Also included is Linda O’Connor, Bernie Daly, special guest visitor to the unit Kelly Holmes, Maura Casey, Jacinta O’Connor and Karen Ahern. Photo by Dermot Crean

The visit was also an opportunity for Andrea to present the proceeds of the charity walk in memory of her late father Tony which was held last weekend in Blennerville and eventually raised an amazing €2,404.

Andrea then set off with Kelly to show her the Conor Pass and Dingle, before heading to Killarney to attend a performance by Celtic Steps in the Gleneagle Hotel. We hope she enjoyed her visit and will return soon to the Kingdom!

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