The Bantry Bay Lions hosted the second “Bed Push Race” on Sunday, July 2 in the Slob Car Park in Bantry to raise money for the Bridge Street Community Cafe, the Jesters and Bantry Bay Lions charities. This event was the driving force behind a concept of Past President Nora Lynch. Nora has been very active in Suicide Awareness and Prevention initiatives over the years and wanted to do something to create a place where people could go to talk to someone who might be able to help them in their time of need.  Through her contacts in Bantry, Nora was able to secure a premises for such a place and then worked with HSE representatives to work out lease details. Realizing that money would be needed to furnish the location, Nora came up with the idea of a “Bed Push Race", an event comprising several teams who competed in a knockout format to race around a course in a bed. There would be one person in the bed and 4 people pushing it through a course constructed with bales of hay. Last year’s successful event raised over €3300 which went toward furnishing and allowed the Community Cafe to move towards its opening in November 2022. 

The Bridge Street Community Café has been a great success. It is open to everyone three days a week, Mondays from 10am to 4pm, Wednesdays from 1-4pm and Fridays from 10am to 4pm and from 7 to 10pm. The Community Cafe is run by a team of volunteers, all fully trained to welcome and support anyone who comes through the door. Nuala Kenny from the HSE is a peer support worker, life coach and mental health advocate and is the lead person at the Café.  People are welcome to come in and enjoy a cuppa, a light bite or a soup on a chilly day. To book at the listening table, or a peer support group, contact Nuala at 087-6074908 or 083-4374096.  
The beds were sourced by Lions Jerry Harrington and Dolf, with the latter instrumental in making them ready for racing. It was a hotly contested event with the Bantry Fire Department and Pat McSweeney Engineering teams making it to the final.  In a very close race, the Pat McSweeney Engineering came out on top. Pictured are the winning team members with the Cup. Please note that the baby was not in the race. In the background are Lions President Marion Rouse with Lions Aaron Buckley and Nora Lynch, the main event organisers. 

This event was a huge success, made possible by generous sponsors, enthusiastic competitors, many volunteers and supportive spectators. The Lions Club would like to say a big thank you to all involved. Founder members of the Bantry Lions Club Phyl and Ernie Lewis participated in the opening ceremonies. Gearoid O’Leary did his usual excellent job of announcing. Terence Gibbs was the DJ, Matt Lawlee provided singing and comedy and Irish Dancing was arranged by Theresa O’Donoghue. At the end of the race a raffle draw was made and 1st Prize of the Rowa €200 Supervalu hamper and 2nd Prize of €100 cash were won by the Box of Frogs. When they were notified of winning the prizes they very generously donated them both back to the Lions Club, a terrific gesture. There were 13 prizes given out, all provided by sponsors. With bbq sales, raffle ticket sales and donations a figure in the region of €3300 has been raised, after accounting for expenses. A terrific result. This money will be used to fund a Suicide Awareness Drop-in Centre in Bantry and other Lions charities. In summary, this wasn’t just a charity event but also a real boost to so many locals’ mental health which ties perfectly back in with the end goal of the project too. It brought people together at a time when it was well needed

Sponsors were Bantry Credit Union, Rowa Pharmaceutical, Jimmy the Chef, Cronin’s Ballylickey, Drinagh (Lyons), Future Forest, JJ Crowley, Stuffed Olive, Uncle Pete’s Pizza, Supervalu, Coakley’s Paint Shop, Joan Carroll & Friends, Quills Bantry, Forest and Flock, Bantry Hardware, Murphy’s Shoe Shop, Maritime Hotel, West Lodge Hotel, O’Donoghue’s Butchers, Lidl Bantry, Biggs Cash & Carry, Drinagh Farm Stores, Cohen’s Chemist and the Quays Bar. 

Competitor teams were Uncle Pete’s Pizza, Supervalu, Wiseman’s, Crocon Engineers, Forest & Flock, Box of Frogs, Bantry Fire Department, Collins Landscaping, Bantry Kelp Forest, Dromleigh Construction, Pat McSweeney Engineering, Kealkil Men’s Shed, English Bus and Bantry Blues. 

Raffle winners were Box of Frogs (twice), David O’Sullivan, Roisin Hampton, Brid O’Leary, Mary Connelly, Mary Foskin, L Wall, Nula Barry, Lillian Darcy, Denis Allen, Valerie Daly, Eoin Collins. A big thank you to all who purchased tickets.

As an adjunct to the event, there was a double decker bus in the car park with quite an interesting history. In 1969, nine young English men in their early twenties decided to travel around the world using this bus, a journey that took 3 years. The upper deck was converted into beds and the bus has toured several countries since then raising money for charities. A film of their journey was shown to a packed house in the Cineplex the night before and was very well received. Half of the funds raised in Bantry will be donated to the Lions Suicide Awareness Drop-in Centre. Amount to be communicated later. 

Provided by John Dervan, PRO – Bantry Bay Lions Club