Munster’s Varley adds his voice to cancer charity fundraising drive

Patricia Feehily

Reporter:

Patricia Feehily

MUNSTER rugby may not be in the pink after Sunday’s unhappy clash with Ulster at Thomond Park, but hooker Damien Varley isn’t singing the blues. He’s singing for the Pink Ribbon movement instead, with the Killaloe Gospel choir.

MUNSTER rugby may not be in the pink after Sunday’s unhappy clash with Ulster at Thomond Park, but hooker Damien Varley isn’t singing the blues. He’s singing for the Pink Ribbon movement instead, with the Killaloe Gospel choir.

The choir has produced a CD, the proceeds of which are going to the Killaloe Pink Ribbon walk and Damien took time off from training to serenade the organisers of this year’s event, which takes place on Saturday, June 16.

The 10km sponsored walk, now in its third year in the picturesque Shannonside venue, is a fund-raising endeavour for Action Breast Cancer, a part of the Irish Cancer Society which raises awareness and provides much needed services and information for cancer patients and their families.

It’s a cause that Damien is happy to support.

“It’s a very worthy cause. Some of my friends have lost their mothers to breast cancer and I’m very happy to be in a position to help out,” said the rugby star.

He hopes to participate for the first time this year in the walk, which starts at the Lakeside Hotel and follows the Hill Road route through Garranboy, through some of the most breathtaking scenery in the region, and back again to the hotel.

He has already made a major contribution to the cause by his participation as a singer in a CD produced by the local Gospel Choir under the direction of Carmel Doolan. Damien once sang in a youth choir run by Carmel and was invited to take part.

He’s also starring in the ‘Big Pink Gig’ in the Pop-Up Playhouse at the Kincora Marina on May 3, where the CD will be launched in conjunction with the launch of the walk.

Walk organiser, Nicola Wood, wife of former Munster rugby star Keith, said that the gig was a huge success last year.

“It was the biggest fundraiser for the Killaloe Pink Ribbon Walk.  It was organised by Carmel Doolan, a teacher at St Anne’s and the choirmaster for the Ballina Killaloe Gospel Choir, and Boris Hunka, who runs ‘Music in the Glen’ and owns the Pop-Up Playhouse,” she said.

 Local choirs from Killaloe and Ballina took part along with a number of choirs from Limerick. This year’s gig on May 3 promises to be even more spectacular.

Since the first pink ribbon walk in Killaloe and Ballina in 2010, over 1000 people have walked for Action Breast Cancer and so far they have raised almost €140,000. 

“It has been hugely successful,” said Ms Wood, “and we hope it will continue for many years to come.

“The registration fee is €20 and we ask everyone to try and raise €100 in sponsorship, of which every penny goes to Action Breast Cancer,” Nicola said.

“You can walk, volunteer, sponsor a walker or maybe help with sponsorship of the event.  For more information or to register please log on to our website, www.pinkribbonwalk.ie,” she added.