Upwards of 200 People Attend GROW National Weekend

20170929_180613Upwards of 200 people gathered in Athlone for GROW’s National Weekend, for a motivational, inspirational and enjoyable celebration of recovery and peer-support.

The National Weekend, which was held from September 29th to October 1st in the Radisson Blu in Athlone, saw friendships forged and renewed, stories shared and memories made. Over the course of the weekend, there were many motivational workshops, inspiring talks and two brilliant, thought-provoking and heart-rending testimonies. There was also entertainment aplenty.

Friday night commenced with the Annual General Meeting of GROW, followed by an opening address by CEO  Michele Kerrigan. There were also ‘Chillax’ and ‘Living Mindfully’ workshops delivered by Susan Crowley from GROW’s Southern Office and Andrea Best, Area Coordinator. Another highlight of the night was the fun quiz, with quiz master Martin Caden.
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The following day included a fascinating and inspiring talk by mountaineer and adventurer, Derek Mahon, who is undertaking the Seven Highest Summits challenge in aid of GROW. Derek enthralled all with his images and descriptions of summiting Mount Everest and, more recently, Kilimanjaro.

There was also a presentation by Colette Tuohy from the HSE, a very enjoyable bus trip to Clonmacnoise, set dancing, organiser and recorder and art workshops as well as gala dinner.  20170930_111111

On Saturday evening, there was a very moving memorial for the late Amy Lalor, who passed away suddenly in January. Amy was a valued and much loved member of GROW.  Since coming to GROW over eight years ago, Amy was a key member of the GROW Community and an integral part of the Southern Regional Team. She was also the youngest serving member of GROW’s National  Board.

The memorial, organised by Southern Area Coordinator Finola O’Callaghan, was attended by Amy’s family and her wider ‘GROW family’ in a fitting tribute to a vibrant and brilliant young woman.20171001_112815

Sunday included a second GROWer testimony and a presentation by Dr. Mike Watts, who spoke about his book ‘Narratives of Recovery from Mental Illness: The Role of Peer Support’, co-written by Professor Agnes Higgins of Trinity College Dublin. The book presents detailed recovery stories of 26 members of GROW.

The weekend concluded with a closing address by National Programme Coordinator, Christine Fitzgerald, and a rousing song by GROW member and singing maestro, Mackey McKenna.