‘Never missing a draw’

Ann Francis Coyne has been part of the Galway Hospice Weekly Draw since its inception

Galway Hospice Weekly Draw promoter Ann Francis Coyne has supported Galway Hospice since its very beginning. In the 1980s, local medical professionals including Ann’s brother-in-law, Dr Padraic Ó Conghaile, and Dr Richard Joyce saw the need for a hospice in Galway. They held a public meeting and received strong support from the local community.

The Weekly Draw has been a vital source of support for Galway Hospice’s services since 1988. The idea came from Foyle Hospice in Derry, which was running a draw to raise funds for its care. Ann visited Derry with her two young sons to see their draw in action and returned with lots of ideas for a Galway draw.

There were several meetings to discuss how best to organise a draw in Galway. A team of people – promoters – would be needed to help collect money. Over 30 years on, many, including Ann, continue to act as Weekly Draw promoters and raise funds for Galway Hospice.

Woodquay native Ann recalls that the first draw drum was made by Paddy O’Toole from Newcastle. It was a wooden hexagon shaped box with a Perspex panel. Ann bought ping pong balls, spray painted them and put numbers on them. Nowadays, the draw is done electronically, with a computer programme randomly selecting the winners.

When it first began, the Weekly Draw was promoted heavily on local radio and public events were held to encourage sign-ups, including a cycle around Connemara. Now, new supporters can sign up online at www.galwayhospice.ie/draw

Ann’s parents were very much involved in supporting the development of Galway Hospice. Her mother, Peggy, recruited many draw members. In Peggy’s house, a little brass kettle was hung above the television and it was called the Hospice Kettle. It was where Peggy kept the draw money she had collected and the details of who had paid in. Ann was given the job of emptying the kettle and logging all the monies in a special notebook. Ann’s father, Jimmy was also very involved in other aspects of the Hospice.

The Weekly Draw funded the establishment of hospice services in Galway and a small team of homecare nurses began caring for patients in their own homes in January 1990. Ann recalls that it gave a great boost to the Draw. As well as supporting care for people with cancer and other conditions, the chance to win £500 every week and the runner-up prize of £100 made people eager to be a part of the new fundraiser. Now, the top prize is €1,000 every week.

Ann won first prize in the Weekly Draw earlier this year. “To think that it came out eventually, after all those years, after my old pound a week from the first draw ever and never missing a draw! I was fierce excited, really and truly!”

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