The third Hope, Healing and Growth event hosted by the Aisling Centre Enniskillen was an outstanding success with huge numbers attending a day dedicated to motivational speakers from across the island of Ireland who encouraged, engaged and enthused their audiences.

Building on the legacy of previous years, the event, which took place at the South West College’s Crest Centre on Saturday, January 4, was a great way to open the 30th anniversary year of the Aisling Centre and recognise the counselling, psychotherapy and wellbeing services they have provided throughout Fermanagh for the past thirty years.

Sister Edel Bannon spoke movingly in recalling the origins of the centre as the brainchild of Sister Mary Daly and its opening in 1990. She paid tribute to the Aisling team, the Board of Directors and all the volunteers who had shaped its growth to the present day as a vital service throughout Fermanagh and surrounding areas. During the event Agnes Lunny outlined her tragic personal story and how she has excelled in a profession supporting those who are the most vulnerable was both humbling and insightful.

Dr. Agata Stanek highlighted how attending last year’s event at a very bleak time for her gave her a “glimmer of hope”. This inspired her to tell her story to start a dialogue that helps reduce the stigma attached to mental health.

Betty Leonard described her extraordinary life and how she faced multiple challenges as a young widowed single mother in tragic circumstances who turned every challenge into an opportunity inspiring the audience with her courage and positivity

Participants also had the unique opportunity to view a screening of ‘The Quiet Shuffling of Feet’, a moving film based on the life experience of David Bolton. They were able to hear first hand about the making of the film from the film’s director and producer Fergus Cooper, as well as David himself, who highlighted the hope they wished it would bring.

A number of the speakers outlined strategies for maximising and managing the pressures of daily life.

Returning to speak at this year’s event, the internationally renowned motivator Declan Coyle spoke of the need to stay positive. This was echoed by Gerry Farrell, who both inspired and entertained his audience with his practical approach to building resilience in daily life. Sharing her story, Bridgeen-Rea-Kaya explored the importance of self compassion by leading with a meditation. She also gave advice on how to focus on our own health and wellbeing by putting ourselves first to be able to help others. Patrick Drury spoke about his personal journey, including the debilitating effect of an allergic reaction to medication and how his experience of having a nervous breakdown, chronic depression and fibromyalgia led him on a journey to work out how the mind works. Author of ‘My Mum is a Superhero’ Sarah Griffiths outlined her personal experience of dealing with cerebral palsy and how she refused to let it limit her in achieving her potential. Vivian McKinnon focused on addressing trauma and addiction and how her personal experience led her to become an inspirational therapeutic practitioner. Karen Dwyer presented her unique take on “how to be a superhero”. Having cured herself from MS over five years ago, she now supports many others through her ‘MS to-success’ programme and gratitude attitude journal.

Over lunchtime ,taster sessions in mindfulness and yoga were led by Christina Cronyn, Shauna McMorrow, Aisling Sheridan and Siobhan Conlon from the Aisling Centre. Teresa O’Hare from Orchard Acre Farm led a session on nature friendly food and exhibits from Action Mental Health and SWELL provided a creative and stimulating backdrop for the event. Those who attended on the day were overwhelmingly positive about the event, commenting that it was an “inspirational, engaging and emotive” day.

Bridie Sweeney, Director of the Aisling Centre thanked all those who had made the event possible, in particular Clair McKenna, Ciaran McManus and their staff teams of South West College, the Belmore Court Motel for their hospitality and the local media for their ongoing coverage and support.