A very substantial legacy gift to Croí, the heart & stroke charity, is set to transform its work in the area of stroke prevention and post-hospital community support for those recovering from a stroke.

The legacy gift from the Joe & Helen O’Toole Charitable Trust of over €3m, made in memory of well-known Tuam business couple, the late Joe and Helen O’Toole, will fund what the charity has described as ‘transformational community projects’ aimed at preventing stroke and supporting stroke survivors.

Announcing details of how the legacy gift will be used, Croí CEO Neil Johnson outlined two separate but interconnected components to a major initiative which will literally save lives and greatly improve the quality of life for many stroke survivors and their families.

The two components are as follows:

  1. Purchase and custom design of two mobile health units which will be used for early detection of stroke and cardiac risk in the community, but which can also be used as mobile community education and awareness centres as required. The two units, an articulated truck and a large Mercedes van will be custom built and equipped to travel throughout the west of Ireland and indeed nationally. In addition to the vehicles the legacy fund will also help support staffing and running costs.
  2. Construction of a new dedicated stroke building which will be connected by a link corridor to the main Croí Heart & Stroke Centre in Newcastle, Galway. This new custom-built facility will be used to provide a stroke recovery day program for those recovering from stroke. The legacy fund will also support the appointment of specialist staff to develop and deliver this much needed service.  Additionally, the legacy will fund the purchase & custom design of a Minibus to transport stroke survivors and their carer’s to and from the new Croí Stroke Hub. Full planning permission for this new development has already been granted and the construction of this new facility is expected to commence before Christmas this year.

Speaking at the launch of the first component of this legacy gift – a new Minibus; Croí CEO Neil Johnson said “this unbelievably generous and unexpected gift from the Joe & Helen Charitable O’Toole Trust, Tuam, is a once in a lifetime transformational donation which will allow Croí undertake lifesaving work in the community. This mobile health infrastructure will bring Croí to every corner of the west of Ireland, providing free assessment and early detection of stroke and cardiac risk which we know will save lives. The new Croí Stroke Hub will provide a much-needed community day program to support stroke survivors and their carer’s – currently no such facility exists in the west of Ireland. This building will be a living legacy to the memory and kindness of Joe & Helen O’Toole”.

Croí Chairman, Mark Gantly said “Croí is deeply indebted to the Joe & Helen O’Toole Charitable Trust for this landmark donation, the first of its magnitude in the history of Croí. This legacy gift allows Croí to fast track a number of strategic initiatives in response to unmet local need which otherwise would have taken many years to address. The real beneficiaries are those recovering from the often devastating impact of a stroke. We will be forever grateful to the Trust for this remarkably supportive gift”.

“Joe and Helen believed in supporting worthy local causes and investing in community projects” said trustee Mattie O’Toole. “During their lifetimes, the O’Toole’s donated significant sums to community, sporting, cultural and spiritual projects and the trust is honoured to continue this legacy of charitable giving in their memory.”

Joe O’Toole’s career in the retail industry began in the 1940s when assisting his father and uncle in a travelling shop that serviced the region around Headford, Co. Galway. In 1967, he opened his own venture, a small supermarket on Bishop Street, Tuam which has developed into the current O’Toole’s Supervalu store, the Palace Restaurant, and the adjoining department/hardware store.

Mary Lardner, trustee, and CEO of O’Toole’s Supervalu said “the O’Toole’s believed in reinvesting their profits locally and were committed to charitable giving throughout their lives. They would be delighted to see the impact that the donation to Croí will make to the lives of stroke survivors and their families in the West of Ireland.”