SPEAKERS at this year’s ‘Hope, Healing and Growth’ event have been hailed as ‘the most inspiring panel’ to ever share their stories at the Fermanagh wellness gathering.
For the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic began, the Aisling Centre held the in-person conference at the Crest Centre, South West College in Enniskillen on Saturday while many others tuned in online.
A large crowd attended the talk, with some of Fermanagh’s inspirational people telling their stories of finding hope in the most trying of circumstances.
Line of Duty star Adrian Dunbar, a patron of the Aisling Centre, officially opened the event. He hoped that attendees would ‘find something positive from the day’.
Following this, Shane Martin, a top psychologist, offered tips on how to manage stress. He emphasised the importance of children having and enjoying some hobbies, as well as their academic studies.
Noelle McAlinden then led a panel discussion with Kinawley’s Connor McBarron, Emma Spence and Una Leonard recalling their own personal stories.
Mr McBarron, a former St Michael’s College teacher, was diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer at just 43 years old. He had to undergo extensive surgery, which has left him living on on-going medication and pain management.
The Kinawley man told the crowd that he tries to remain positive as others have been ‘less fortunate’ than him. He also spoke about the importance of ‘learning to live, not just exist.’
After the panel discussion, acclaimed environmentalist Dr Lorna Gold joined the conference virtually via Zoom. She talked about the connection between emotional wellbeing and the environment, urging people of all ages in Fermanagh to do their bit to take care of the Earth.
Enniskillen organisation, the FIND Centre, then delivered a presentation called ‘Holding on to Hope’. They showed a suicide prevention TikTok video made by young people for young people. They also emphasised the connection that pets, and particular dogs, can have with people and how they can help with their mental health.
Children in Crossfire founder Richard Moore and former X-Factor contestant Janet Devlin also spoke openly about their lives and how they found hope despite being faced with unprecedented challenges.
Alison Annan, chairwoman of the Aisling Centre, then concluded the conference. She said she felt ‘privileged’ to have been able to listen to people’s stories of hope.
One of the participants at the ‘Hope, Healing and Growth Day of Inspiration’ day found the conference very beneficial.
“I feel we all have just been blessed with a most uplifting experience,” they said, “a truly inspiring day recalling us to a few constants in life – gratitude, compassion, kindness and valuing the present moment.”
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