The Irish public have been asked to nominate frontline healthcare workers for free luxury staycations in Galway.
The three-day retreats at the Notre Dame Global Centre at Kylemore Abbey aim to thank health workers for their service during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Irish company Iconic Camino is offering the staycations in partnership with business sponsors.
Their itinerary will mirror the existing “Connemino Wellness Programme” at Kylemore Abbey, which is billed as the “perfect way to indulge with nourishing food, gentle hikes and amazing nature.”
Members of the public are now being invited to nominate a healthcare worker they know for a place on the “Heroes’ Retreat” on dates between now and the end of 2021.
Alan Kerins, a former Galway hurler and footballer who now runs Iconic Camino, said he had been trying to work out how to reward the efforts of doctors, nurses, care home and ambulance staff for some time.
“They’re the true heroes of this pandemic. At Kylemore Abbey, we are surrounded by the most beautiful scenery to be found anywhere on earth, and I think it is the perfect place for those frontline health workers to pause and reflect on the year that has passed,” he said.
“The great flexibility in using the Notre Dame Global Centre at Kylemore is that they will be able to bring either a partner or a friend to share the experience”.
Mayo-based nurse Marie Lyons was on the frontline during the pandemic last year and urged the public to nominate health workers.
“The pandemic experience has taken an extremely heavy toll on healthcare workers, and it’s hard for us to take stock of what we’ve been through,” she said.
“Heroes’ Retreat is such a great chance for them to get away, catch their breath and take time to themselves. I’d urge everyone to start nominating people now — this is a brilliant way to say thanks for all their hard work.”
Sponsor a weekend
Businesses are also urged to “show their appreciation for the healthcare community” by sponsoring a weekend for healthcare workers.
Kirby Group Engineering is the first to sign up to the scheme, and has donated €50,000 to cover the cost of two weekends.
Mr Kerins said: “I am hugely grateful to Kirby Group for their financial support, and look forward to engaging with other businesses who could match their generosity.
“This is a chance to give back to those who have been giving so much of their own physical and mental energy to lead the fight against Covid and who deserve to be shown appreciation and gratitude.”
Successful applicants will be chosen by random selection from nominations received online via https://iconiccaminos.ie/.
For the purposes of the competition, the company is defining a frontline healthcare worker as anyone working in direct patient care in the health service during 2020 and 2021. Proof of employment may be required as part of the validation process, and a full list of terms and conditions is available here.