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Chance meeting gives Emma a whole new sense of mobility

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A chance meeting in a pub triggered a chain of events that has given a brave Ballinasloe girl a whole new lease of life.

Four year Emma Campbell has a rare condition called Succinic Semialdehyde Dehydrogenase Deficiency – or SSADHD. Children with Emma’s condition typically have developmental delay, especially involving speech development, intellectual disability, poor fine motor and gross motor skills, and decreased muscle tone.

Her dad Ken has embarked on a number of projects to highlight, not just his daughter’s plight, but to promote quality and awareness for children with special needs.

He called his walk from Ballinasloe to Dublin Miles for Emma – and on his return he joined fellow walkers for a celebratory pint in his local Gibbon’s Pillar House in the town.

“I was introduced to a gentleman called Tom Hatcher from Oklahoma City, and his wife Hillary, who is originally from Ballinasloe, who were there with family members enjoying an evening out,” said Ken.

“Kathryn Gibbons, who introduced me to Tom, had been telling them about Miles for Emma, and Tom Informed Kathryn that he was involved with a group in the USA called AMBUCS, creating mobility and independence for people with disabilities and special needs through AmTrykes,” he added.

AMBUCS is a non-profit charity dedicated to creating mobility and independence for people with disabilities and believe the fun and freedom of riding your own bike is something everyone should have the opportunity to enjoy.

And people who are unable to operate a traditional bike can now share this experience, thanks to the Amtryke therapeutic tricycle – one of which Tom wanted to donate to Emma for free!

“As you can appreciate I was definitely taken aback by this very generous offer one that I knew would both enhance and benefit Emma’s life in so many ways,” said Ken.

True to his word, Tom began the process and once the best sort of trike for Emma’s needs was identified – and last Friday it arrived in Ballinasloe.

Ken continues to highlight Emma’s plight and those of so many children with special needs – after his Ballinasloe to Dublin walk, he also undertook the Croagh Patrick Four-Peak Challenge, where participants climbed the Reek four times in one day. But this time it was a day of unadulterated joy as his daughter took on a big challenge all of her own.

“We had a few reservations that Emma may be a little reluctant and that we would struggle to get her to sit on it or use it in anyway – it turns out we’ll have more trouble keeping her off it. Once it was assembled and adjusted to her size she was all over it,” said Ken.

“She loves her trike, she loves her pink AmTryke helmet and most of all she loves putting all her dollies and teddies in the basket which is attached to the back of her lovely new trike.

“She loves being pushed around, as the trike moves her legs move so she gets the sense of pedalling. Her steering still needs a lot of work but crashing into things seems to add to the fun,” he added.

“Myself and my wife Michelle and family – and especially Emma – would just like to thank Tom and Hillary and all at AMBUCS and AmTrykes who made this possible.

“They have changed a little Irish girl’s life in so many ways!”

■ For more details on Miles for Emma see the Facebook page or contact Ken on 0877654200.

CITY TRIBUNE

GAA club’s tournament honours stalwart who died at just 28

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Pictured at the launch of the Darragh Frain Memorial Tournament which takes place in Mervue this Saturday. Back: Kevin Curran, Kevin Barrett, Robert Fitzgerald, Aidan Brady, Alan O'Donnell, Donal Murphy, Eanna O'Connell, Eoghan Frain, David Henry. Front: Aodhain Ó Conghaile, Liam O'Donnell, Rory Murphy, Fionn Fitzgerald and Michael Barrett.

The untimely passing of a city GAA stalwart six years ago is still deeply felt by the club he represented but he remains an inspiration to young up-and-coming footballers who will be displaying their skills this weekend.

The Darragh Frain Memorial Tournament for under-age teams will take place in St James’ GAA grounds at Mervue tomorrow, Saturday, when many memories of a great young clubman will be exchanged.

Darragh, from Lurgan Park in Renmore, was just 28 years of age when he lost his battle with cancer in 2016. Since then his beloved club has been organising a tournament for young footballers that’s proving immensely popular.

For tomorrow’s event, the St James club will entertain local teams including St Michael’s, Salthill-Knocknacarra, Killanin and an Cheathrú Rua, as well as Kiltane (Bangor Erris) and Elphin-Ballinameen from North Roscommon.

It is a nine-a-side tournament, which takes place from 11am to 5pm, and will involve Under-11 teams who will compete against each other during the day.

The fact that Darragh’s late father, Tom Frain Senior, hailed from Roscommon means that GAA support for the event is coming from both counties – this makes it extra special, as well as adding to the profile of the tournament.

Best friend and one of the event’s main organisers, another St James stalwart David Henry explained that this was the sixth year of the tournament and that Darragh would be very pleased that his name was being associated with the development of under-age football.

Get the full story in this week’s Galway City Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie. You can also download our Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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CITY TRIBUNE

‘Too many cafés’ as city retail continues to decline

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Barber Tom Nally outside his premises.

The changing face of Galway city centre is a source of concern to those who say it reflects a decline for people in terms of retail choices.

Those who regret the loss of several long-standing family-run operations in the city in recent years don’t believe that what has replaced them has enhanced the appearance of Shop Street, in particular.

“We are looking at a proliferation of coffee shops, bookies and mobile phone outlets in their place,” observed long-standing city centre businessman Tom Nally.

Cllr Niall McNelis agreed there were far too many coffee shops in the city centre and believed that anything that has been zoned retail by the Council should remain retail.

The Labour Councillor said a proper retail strategy needed to be adopted and some of the ‘big-name brands’ needed to be encouraged into the centre of Galway to lure shoppers into town.

Meanwhile, popular barber Tom Nally regretted the number of family operations that have ceased trading in the recent past.

“It is sad to see the long-established family businesses in the city centre going and it would be great to say that what is replacing them will enhance our streets . . . but unfortunately this is not the case,” he added.

Mr Nally who has been operating out of his High Street premises for almost 50 years, said the number of unoccupied premises in an around the city centre was a new phenomenon.

Get the full story in this week’s Galway City Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie. You can also download our Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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CITY TRIBUNE

State cracks down on quick-buck landlords

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New measures to clamp down on illegal short-term lets in the city will kick in next month, in an attempt to tackle mounting pressure on the rental market.

From September 1, sites such as Airbnb and Booking.com will no longer be allowed to advertise short-term rentals if the correct planning permission is not in place.

The measure seeks to strengthen laws introduced in 2019 which state that the use of a property for short-term letting for longer than 90 days in a rent-pressure zone requires permission from the local authority.

City Councillor Niall Murphy (Green) said the move follows on from an objection he lodged with the Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland (ASAI).

“The ASAI said it couldn’t be expected to police these ads so the websites like Airbnb were off the hook. But after September, they will have to ensure that those advertising on their sites have planning permission,” he said.

The proliferation of short-term lets in the city has been a contentious issue for a number of years, with scores of holiday leases available at the same time as city residents are battling it out for an extremely limited number of rental properties.

This week, almost 400 short-term lets were available on the leading website, Airbnb, while just 19 homes were up for rent on Daft.ie.

Get the full story in this week’s Galway City Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie. You can also download our Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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