Growing Hair for Hilary

Pictured:  Samantha Mc Gregor and Aishling Hurley from Breast Cancer Ireland with Hilary, centre.

Pictured: Samantha Mc Gregor and Aishling Hurley from Breast Cancer Ireland with Hilary, centre.

The staff of Dublin Bus Ringsend Garage saw the fruits of their fundraising labours rewarded on November 6th. The depot ran a Movember-themed campaign called Grow Hair for Hilary on behalf of Hilary Dempsey, a Dublin Bus inspector and colleague who has been diagnosed with breast cancer.

NewsFour was present on the morning in question to witness Hilary being presented with a cheque for €10,265, every penny of which goes towards cancer research with Breast Cancer Ireland. The morning presentation was replete with depot drivers, media and public relations personnel, and representatives from Breast Cancer Ireland, who provided the bulk of the merchandise on display.

The Grow Hair for Hilary appeal is the brainchild of Des Roche and Jerry Kelly, two Ringsend bus drivers and colleagues of Hilary Dempsey, who gave them her blessing to get things underway. The campaign was launched in early October with around 100 drivers signing up to take sponsorship cards and to take on the burden of cultivating a moustache or beard, or your standard Van Dyke! Cash was raised for the total sum through friends, family and local sources. The Garage also received support from their unions and Dublin Bus Head Office.

“It was good fun because during the whole five-week campaign there were drivers coming in unshaven and all that,” said Kelly. “It looked like the guys were living on a desert island or something!”

Driver Gerry Pettigrew was responsible for the graphic design aspects of the initiative and also created the Twitter profile #growhairforhilary, which was manned by Graham Finnerty. The hashtag was granted added media exposure after a group of drivers attended the World Darts Championships in Citywest. While there, the motley crew persuaded RTÉ presenter Craig Doyle to pose with a #growhairforhilary poster, which was then etched onto the Twitter account. Former world darts champion Eric Bristow also gave his endorsement by allowing the group to take a snap of him with a campaign poster.

Halfway through the campaign, Kelly initiated contact with Wilkinson Sword, who supplied a razor blade for everyone who took part to “clean up their act,” as he put it. “I know the wives of the staff weren’t particularly happy with the beards,” he went on to say.

Jennifer Reilly, of Dublin Bus’ public relations department, was full of praise for all of the drivers who took part in the campaign on behalf of Hilary.

“It’s great that such a worthy cause is being supported, but even more than that, it’s great that they’ve come together to support a colleague. It’s been such a wonderful initiative since the beginning and I’m so delighted with the amount of money and awareness they have raised.”

NewsFour also caught up with Aisling Hurley, Director of Breast Cancer Ireland, and she told us of the agency’s involvement with Grow Hair for Hilary and how it is a reflection of the trials and tribulations that Breast Cancer Ireland faces on an all too regular basis.

“We were approached by Des and Jerry, on behalf of Hilary, and we thought it was a fantastic campaign. Our whole mandate is about research and we want to transform breast cancer from being a fatal disease with 650 deaths annually to something that’s survivable. We’re making huge progress at the moment and survival rates are increasing.”

By Craig Kinsella