Over 500 people descended on the South West Skills Centre last Saturday to take part in the Hope, Healing and Health event.

The event aimed to support the counselling work of the Aisling Centre, who promote positive mental health and emotional well-being throughout Fermanagh, helping adults and children at difficult times in their lives, many in distress and despair.

The event’s main purpose was to create an opportunity for people to hear first hand inspirational personal stories on a day of reflection, relaxation and restoration and to get 2019 off to an inspiring and positive start.

The primary theme was how to live well with hope and the speakers described the importance of self-care and how they had overcome personal adversity and turned their lives around by facing their issues in a positive way.

It was a privilege to hear the personal stories of how they had coped and were sharing so openly what they had learned to benefit others.

The seminars and workshops gave practical advice on how to be resilient with Gerry Farrell. Ursula Mc Hugh encouraged people to unlock their creativity, Karen Dwyer promoted a changing focus in our attitude to one of gratitude, Teresa McGee advised on how we can recognise and cope with the stresses of everyday life a theme continued by Ann Donnelly in facing up to the challenging times we live in. Patrick Drury highlighted the power of changing mindsets.

Denise Devlin told her remarkable story of how, as a successful business woman, she had to step back and as a result has channelled an inspirational book ‘The Untold Story’.

Ali North has also published a book AN & I outlining her remarkable journey with Anorexia Nervosa.

Geraldine Sharkey told her story of dealing with addiction and Roy Robinson told of his journey with cancer and heart disease.

There were inspiring stories from Tracey Kernaghan, whose husband fought a brave battle with cancer, and Sharon McGrath who lost her beloved son Oisín.

The courage of these women moved all who heard their stories.

During her speech on the day guest speaker, Sarah Griffith, Wheelie Momma, had glowing praise for the event.

“I know in my heart that the seed of inspiration and positivity was sown back in January 2018 which filled my head and more importantly my heart to the brim and opened the most amazing doors.

Not only that but the friendships and connections made gave me the courage; and in some cases, held my hand to walk through the doors and take the opportunities.

“It’s a unique, beautiful event that literally warms the hearts of Fermanagh and beyond in what could otherwise be a cold, dark January. It is an honour and a privilege to have been a part of it for the last two years and I look forward to 2020 already with excitement and anticipation for what magic it will bring.”

Everyone had the opportunity to avail of a range of self-care activities including yoga, meditation, mindfulness workshops led by Mary Conway and her team from the Aisling Centre and a range of complimentary therapy and healing sessions delivered by over 20 therapists who gave of their time and expertise so generously. Over lunch time people also had the opportunity to join the drumming circle with Marcella Gillian and a poetry workshop with Kate O’Shea and Robbie Breadon.

The end of the day allowed everyone to reflect on the positivity and the hope that was so evident and the event was brought to an inspiring finale by Andrea Begley the winner of the Voice who had shared her story as an ambassador for the Royal Institute of the Blind and concluded the event by beautifully singing a number of songs on the theme of hope.

John Bennett on behalf of the Aisling Centre expressed sincere gratitude to all who made the event possible, from speakers, therapists and a host of volunteers and businesses including, the Belmore Court Motel, local press and a special thanks to the South West College.

He thanked their staff team led by Clair Mc Kenna for their incredible support in an excellent venue at The Crest Centre.