Delivered by Dr Maurice Guéret, Chairperson of TRUST at the Crystal Clear Health Literacy Awards at Presentation Ceremony in Dublin on Monday, April 20, 2009.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to stand before you today and nominate for a Health Literacy Award, a person whose work I have known and admired for many years.
Alice Leahy trained as a nurse at the old Baggot Street Hospital and she was instrumental in setting up the first Intensive Care Unit at that hospital.
As Alice nursed those with serious illness, she also found time to pursue voluntary work for the less fortunate in Dublin.
In the mid-1970s, she co-founded a remarkable organisation called Trust, which for the last four decades has provided companionship and care for the outsiders in our community – those who have lost their homes, their loved ones, their sanity, their freedom and often their human dignity.
In short, Trust provides a different sort of intensive care – intensive care to those in our society who need it most.
Alice’s working week is quite extraordinary. There is tea and warmth for all visitors to Trust. There are dressings to be done. Feet to be bathed. Clothes to be mended. Illnesses to be healed. Entitlements to be arranged. There are letters to be written. There are voices to be heard.
Alice attends funerals where the numbers present would hardly fill one pew. She visits hospitals and prisons chatting to those for whom visitors are few. Alice’s life is a constant battle for the human rights and needs of the most vulnerable in our society.
Alice listens, she provokes and she inspires so many people who come into contact with her.
I nominated Alice Leahy for this award for a remarkable book she published last year with Trust and their friends.
It is called ‘Wasting Time With People’
One chapter was written by Ronald, a friend of Alice who lives in a public park in Dublin. I will quote the final paragraph of Ronald’s piece.
“I wander the canal and watch the world go by. Some of my friends will be there, and the people I know going to work or walking their dogs will stop and have a chat. People are very good. I suppose I am not like normal people. I just love out, that’s my life. I hope it doesn’t rain. Someone robbed my umbrella.”
Alice and her small team at Trust have spent 35 years of their time with people like Ronald. They provide an umbrella like no other.
We are so proud of you Alice.