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Laois Arch Club marching together for over three decades
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Laois Arch Club marching together for over three decades

Laois Arch Club members marching on together well into fourth decade

Looking at the excitement on the faces of all the Laois Arch Club members who took part in  their fundraising day in Emo on Sunday, it’s very obvious how much this club means to them all. “March for Arch” is an all inclusive sponsored walk where members choose themselves how far they want to walk. It includes a family fun day filled with lots of games, a disco, a lucky dip, an ice cream van and many other treats. There were lots of happy faces as their Chairperson, Mary Butler, cut the ribbon to signify the start of the walk and they all set off with great energy. The medals awarded at the end were a wonderful incentive to keep going!

Laois Arch Club is a Friendship Club for people over the age of 16 with intellectual disabilities. The club was founded in 1988 with a view to providing a social outlet where members can meet up with their peers in a safe, supportive, friendly and encouraging environment. The club has over 130 members and currently has a waiting list as the demand to join is so high.  The club meets once a month in the Midlands Park Hotel and the excitement is palpable as the members rush in to meet their friends, and the wonderful group of  volunteers who run the club.  

In addition to the monthly meet ups, the club brings approximately 40 of their members for a weekend away each year. This is the highlight of the year for their members and also provides parents and carers with a well-deserved respite break. Members who, for various reasons, are unable to go on the weekend away, are invited on a day trip with their Arch Club friends.

Laois Arch Club is a totally voluntary club and relies on fundraising and donations to continue providing this essential service. Since Covid the club has had to come up with innovative ways to fundraise and their March for Arch, which combines fundraising with a fun day out for all the family, has now become an annual event.

Laois Arch Club would like to acknowledge and thank Laois Partnership and also Portlaoise Lions Club for their very generous sponsorship of this event. They would also like to thank all the local businesses and supporters for their sponsorship of prizes for their Monster Raffle, and also the very generous donations received. Garda Henry Sloan and Garda Dan Sheehy from the Community Police Unit were a huge hit with their squad car and motorbike and, of course, their handcuffs!

The rain held off, the sun stayed out and everyone had a wonderful day and went home already looking forward to next year’s March for Arch!