In 1998 the first Christmas Memorial Tree appeal was established by the Rotary Club of Waterford to help raise funds for the development of a 20 bed Hospice facility on the grounds of Waterford Regional Hospital. To date the initiative has raised nearly €400,000 towards this worthy cause.
Following the success of the Waterford initiative, in 2002 the Rotary Club of Cork & Bishopstown became the second club to establish a Christmas Memorial Tree appeal. They were closely followed by the Cork Douglas and Clonmel Rotary clubs and then subsequently by Tralee and Wicklow. Since then the number of clubs across the island adopting the Christmas Memorial Tree format has steadily risen. In 2010 the number of clubs adopting the Christmas Memorial Tree appeal topped 25!
And now the initiative has taken an international development with the Rotary club of Cirencester in Gloucestershire in England launching its first memorial tree this year. Waterford’s Mike Kelliher assisted the English club with their plans.
This year EBS Waterford is the sponsor of the Memorial Tree Appeal. As well as raising much needed funds in Waterford for the Hospice Foundation, the Memorial Tree Appeal provides people with a means of remembering their loved ones in a dignified and meaningful manner. Indeed over the years the Christmas Memorial Tree Appeal has become synonymous with the celebration of Christmas in Waterford and enjoys widespread support from the public.
Ms. Kathleen Fitzgerald President of the Rotary Club of Waterford said, “The Rotary Club of Waterford is so proud to be the founder of this excellent initiative that has done so much good over so many years. In saying that it is the generosity of the public that makes it such a success.”
Martin O’Hare, Manager, EBS Waterford said; “EBS Waterford is delighted to support the Rotary’s Christmas Memorial Tree and to contribute to this worthy cause. The success of the Christmas Memorial Tree in Waterford and beyond is testament to the excellent work undertaken by Rotary Club volunteers.”
The launch took place at 1pm on Thursday December 8th at John Robert’s Square in Waterford City. With carols from Waterford Youth Gospel Choir, the Memorial Tree Appeal was officially launched by His Worship the Mayor Cllr. Pat Hayes.
Waterford and the country have changed significantly since the inception of the Christmas Memorial Tree in 1998. However, despite the fact purse strings are tighter now than they have been in years the Rotary Club of Waterford is confident it can continue to raise money for Waterford Hospice through the Memorial Christmas Tree for many years to come.