Idoia Nateo, Michelle Shaw, Caroline King, Colin Kenny, Rachel O'Brien, Catherine Ronan, Audrey Johnston, Mary Reale and Sharon O'Brien, attending the Irish Grocers Benevolent Fund Ball
IT WAS a Valentine’s Ball with a difference in Limerick, all with the aim of helping those who have fallen on hard times.
And this year’s event, the Mid-West region ball organised by the Irish Grocers Benevolent Fund, has raised more than €20,000 for grocers in need and their families.
The charity assists people in the retail, wholesale and supplier trade sectors, providing financial relief for people who have been involved in the business.
The event is also the chance for those in the industry to enjoy a night of fun with colleagues.
Last Saturday evening, the glamour was turned up for the annual ball, one of the region’s major highlights on the social calendar.
Two hundred people, with links to the grocery trade, flocked to the Castletroy Park Hotel for the elegant evening, which started with a wine and cocktail reception.
Guests were then ushered into the hotel’s grand ballroom, where they ate, drank, and toasted their colleagues and the organising committee.
The event was sponsored by some of the food and drink industry’s biggest names.
Some lucky spot prize winners went home with generously sponsored prizes, including a holiday to Las Vegas, a television and an iPad, in a raffle that raised over €4,000.
But the real winners are those who are given a helping hand up from their colleagues, by availing of this fund.
For over 30 years, the fund has been used to relieve hardship. It is also used to help spouses who have fallen on difficult times.
The IGBF aims to assist widows and orphans of members of the trade, elderly and retired members in need, members whose dependents are seriously ill, members in need of nursing care either at home or institutionally, and cases of hardship from prolonged unemployment.
Testimonials from those who have been helped by the fund show just how important the financial help can be.
One young widower who worked in retail, and who lost his wife through cancer, received some funding from the IGBF. He was left with five young children to care for, and had to reduce his working day to mornings only so that he could care for them.
“I am overwhelmed with your kindness, concern and generosity. My family and I are most grateful. With people like you and your organisation, it helps greatly to make the world a better place to live,” he wrote to the committee.
A widow of a food company rep, who had no pension, wrote: “Thank you for your gift, I feel reassured that someone is keeping an eye on me.”
The national fund assists nearly 250 families monthly, and contributes over €560,000 annually on welfare support.
The €20,000 raised at the Limerick ball is the equivalent, for the committee, of helping eight families locally over the course of one year.