Celebration of Life Ball for Barretstown this Saturday in the Annebrook Hotel.

Photo shows, Paula Doyle with a photo of her late son Saba.

When Paula Doyle’s youngest son Saba passed away at the age of nine months in January 2007, she was consumed by grief.

A mother to three other boys, she says that she was struggling to come to terms with her loss when she was put in touch with Barretstown.

Best known for the camps it runs for children with serious illnesses and their families, the charity also hosts bereavement camps for families that have lost a child.

As well as taking part in a range of fun and exciting activities, participants share their experience of loss with other families.

Paula says that attending the camp with the rest of her family was a huge help to her as she tried to get her life back together.

“You could say that they gave me my soul back,” said Paula.

“They do such vital work. We found it vitally important especially for Saba’s siblings. When parents are grieving it can be hard to meet the emotional needs of the other children in the family.”

After attending the camp Paula came to the realisation that “you can stay in grief or honour the person that you’ve lost by living your life to the full”.

“Life is very precious and you should make the most of it,” she says.

In the run-up to her 50th birthday in 2017, she decided that she would hold an event, The Celebration of Life Ball, to raise funds for Barretstown and to honour the memory of Saba.

Supposed to be a one-off, the night was so much successful that it has become an annual event.

This year’s ball is being held in Annebrook House Hotel, Mullingar on Saturday October 26. The evening starts with a champagne reception at 7pm, with dinner served at 8pm.

Music on the night will be provided by popular local band, The Big Kahuna.

“The Annebrook have been fantastic,” said Paula. “We held it there last year too and the staff were amazing.

“Other parents that we met at the bereavement camp come and they honour the children that they lost, but above all else it’s great craic.

“The evening is not based on sorrow but based on celebration,” Paula says.

Tickets (€55) can be purchased by calling 087 6126047, or by emailing miss.bucket@hotmail.com.

About Barretstown

Barretstown offers free, specially designed camps and programmes for children and their families living with a serious illness – supported by 24-hour on site medical and nursing care.

Everything, including accommodation, food and medical assistance are provided at no cost to the family.

Barretstown is supported by donations and the fundraising efforts of corporate supporters, individuals and community groups.

Barretstown is recognised as a centre of excellence in childhood cancer care and other serious illnesses. Children are referred to Barretstown based on their medical needs.