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      Your health is your wealth. How many times have we heard that saying. Taking care of yourself to make sure you’re healthy for your kids is important but what if you’re kids become sick. As a parent it is not only upsetting but from the parents I talk to they also feel helpless. Christmas can be a very difficult time of the year for a lot of reasons. We miss the ones we love and for those who are sick it very often means spending Christmas away from home.

      Valerie Keating and her husband Gary are two people who have never forgotten the seven weeks Valerie spent in hospital before she gave birth to their son Dylan (who is now nine and healthy). They were both so grateful that everything was OK that they promised they would give something back.

      So seven years ago they started the annual celebrity ward walk at Crumlin children’s hospital. Valerie told me “I just felt it must be so hard for parents with kids to sit day in day out in hospital with little to entertain them. We had so many celebrity contacts we thought it might be a good idea to get them all together in a children’s hospital to visit the kids and parents and Xmas. Hence the name “Celebrity Ward Walk”.

      “The hope is that for a few minutes/hours the kids and their parents might just “forget” about their pain and worry and would enjoy the moments a) looking forward to the celebrities arriving and b) the moments afterwards where they have pictures and happy memories.”

      This year is a particularly difficult year for Valerie and Gary though as in January their five year old son Josh was diagnosed with HUS and was very ill in Crumlin.(he is great now Thank God)! For this reason they want to make this the biggest and the best year ever and want to cover every single ward in the hospital.

      Every year over 25 celebrities attend. First they all go to the Auditorium for a sing song and then they are split up into groups and go around various wards.

      Here are a list of some of the celebrities who attended last year: Brian Ormond (he has never missed a year) and Pippa, Ryan Sheridan, Keith Barry, Bernard Dunne, Ronan Keating, Brendan and Jenny O’Carroll (they have never missed a year), Sile Seoige, Brent Pope, Victoria Smurfit, Shane Byrne, Kathryn Thomas and many more

      This year already confirmed are: Brian and Pippa, Brendan and Jenny O’Carroll, Shane Byrne, Dylan McGrath, Nick Munier, Shane O’Donoghue, Glenda Gilson, Lorraine Keane, Rosanna Davison, Lisa Fitzpatrick, Jackie Lavin and about 5 lads from the Leinster team. I am also delighted to be taking part for the first time.

      Two years ago Val asked her friend Maresa Cagney at Heinz to sponsor the event – they give Crumlin a very generous donation which goes towards buying the children presents at Christmas. To mark this generous donation we now call the event the “Heinz Celebrity Ward Walk” at Crumlin Children’s Hospital.

      Most importantly this is all organised and run on a completely voluntary basis. I’ll be keeping you posted with pics on the day and all the latest news from the celebs on hand!!!

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