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Chance meeting gives Emma a whole new sense of mobility



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.

Connacht Tribune

West has lower cancer survival rates than rest



Significant state investment is required to address ‘shocking’ inequalities that leave cancer patients in the West at greater risk of succumbing to the disease.

A meeting of Regional Health Forum West heard that survival rates for breast, lung and colorectal cancers than the national average, and with the most deprived quintile of the population, the West’s residents faced poorer outcomes from a cancer diagnosis.

For breast cancer patients, the five-year survival rate was 80% in the West versus 85% nationally; for lung cancer patients it was 16.7% in the west against a 19.5% national survival rate; and in the West’s colorectal cancer patients, there was a 62.6% survival rate where the national average was 63.1%.

These startling statistics were provided in answer to a question from Ballinasloe-based Cllr Evelyn Parsons (Ind) who said it was yet another reminder that cancer treatment infrastructure in the West was in dire need of improvement.

“The situation is pretty stark. In the Western Regional Health Forum area, we have the highest incidence of deprivation and the highest health inequalities because of that – we have the highest incidences of cancer nationally because of that,” said Cllr Parsons, who is also a general practitioner.

In details provided by CEO of Saolta Health Care Group, which operates Galway’s hospitals, it was stated that a number of factors were impacting on patient outcomes.

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Connacht Tribune

Marathon Man plans to call a halt – but not before he hits 160 races



Loughrea’s Marathon Man Jarlath Fitzgerald.

On the eve of completing his 150th marathon, an odyssey that has taken him across 53 countries, Loughrea’s Marathon Man has announced that he is planning to hang up his running shoes.

But not before Jarlath Fitzgerald completes another ten races, making it 160 marathons on the occasion of his 60th birthday.

“I want to draw the line in 2026. I turn 57 in October and when I reach 60 it’s the finishing line. The longer races are taking it out of me. I did 20 miles there two weeks ago and didn’t feel good. It’s getting harder,” he reveals.

“I’ve arthritis in both hips and there’s wear and tear in the knees.”

We speak as he is about to head out for a run before his shift in Supervalu Loughrea. Despite his physical complaints, he still clocks up 30 miles every second week and generally runs four days a week.

Jarlath receives injections to his left hip to keep the pain at bay while running on the road.

To give his joints a break, during the winter he runs cross country and often does a five-mile trek around Kylebrack Wood.

He is planning on running his 150th marathon in Cork on June 4, where a group of 20 made up of work colleagues, friends and running mates from Loughrea Athletics Club will join him.

Some are doing the 10k, others are doing the half marathon, but all will be there on the finishing line to cheer him on in the phenomenal achievement.

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

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Galway ‘masterplan’ needed to tackle housing and transport crises



From the Galway City Tribune – An impassioned plea for a ‘masterplan’ that would guide Galway City into the future has been made in the Dáil. Galway West TD Catherine Connolly stated this week that there needed to be an all-inclusive approach with “vision and leadership” in order to build a sustainable city.

Deputy Connolly spoke at length at the crisis surrounding traffic and housing in Galway city and said that not all of the blame could be laid at the door of the local authority.

She said that her preference would be the provision of light rail as the main form of public transport, but that this would have to be driven by the government.

“I sat on the local council for 17 years and despaired at all of the solutions going down one road, metaphorically and literally. In 2005 we put Park & Ride into the development plan, but that has not been rolled out. A 2016 transport strategy was outdated at the time and still has not been updated.

“Due to the housing crisis in the city, a task force was set up in 2019. Not a single report or analysis has been published on the cause of the crisis,” added Deputy Connolly.

She then referred to a report from the Land Development Agency (LDA) that identified lands suitable for the provision of housing. But she said that two-thirds of these had significant problems and a large portion was in Merlin Park University Hospital which, she said, would never have housing built on it.

In response, Minister Simon Harris spoke of the continuing job investment in the city and also in higher education, which is his portfolio.

But turning his attention to traffic congestion, he accepted that there were “real issues” when it came to transport, mobility and accessibility around Galway.

“We share the view that we need a Park & Ride facility and I understand there are also Bus Connects plans.

“I also suggest that the City Council reflect on her comments. I am proud to be in a Government that is providing unparalleled levels of investment to local authorities and unparalleled opportunities for local authorities to draw down,” he said.

Then Minister Harris referred to the controversial Galway City Outer Ring Road which he said was “struck down by An Bord Pleanála”, despite a lot of energy having been put into that project.

However, Deputy Connolly picked up on this and pointed out that An Bord Pleanála did not say ‘No’ to the ring road.

“The High Court said ‘No’ to the ring road because An Bord Pleanála acknowledged it failed utterly to consider climate change and our climate change obligations.

“That tells us something about An Bord Pleanála and the management that submitted such a plan.”

In the end, Minister Harris agreed that there needed to be a masterplan for Galway City.

“I suggest it is for the local authority to come up with a vision and then work with the Government to try to fund and implement that.”

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