Below is a letter written by SACC Chairman Bill Power with regard to Cork photographer Morgan O’Neill. When we initially approached Morgan with offers of assistance, he was very, very reluctant to accept. He finally conceded on the grounds that when he is better, he will help others. The thing is, he already has helped many people at many levels, yet doesn’t see it that way. That’s the kind of man he is and that’s one of the many reasons why we have already received such an outpouring of support for this campaign.
Morgan is overwhelmed by the support from all of you, and asks us to say a very, very humble thank you on his behalf.
We ask that you please co-ordinate all donations through the SACC.
In my two years as chairman of the Southern Association of Camera Clubs I have not had cause to write directly to clubs or photographers in the region, so I hope that my doing so now will indicate the importance of what I am about to ask you to do.
A week ago, I convened a special meeting of the SACC committee after we became aware that our good friend, Morgan O’Neill, has contracted two diseases called Mucous Membrane Phemphigoid and Bullous Phemphigoid. These rare chronic auto-immune diseases that affect one in ten million people. As far as we know, Morgan is the only person in Ireland to suffer from them.
Those who know Morgan as we do, know that he is the salt of the earth – one of life’s gentlemen who is an amazing Dad to his young daughter and son, and a devoted husband to his wife, Siobhán. Photographers and clubs throughout Ireland know that he lights up a club when he speaks. He is a naturally talented but somewhat shy photographer, whose images never ceases to amaze and inspire.
Unfortunately, things aren’t going too well for him and his family at the moment. Siobhán has had to give up her part-time job so that she can give him the hourly care he needs. The chronic state of his health has not been helped by the fact that the O’Neills have mounting medical bills – some of the necessary treatments he needs are not covered by the HSE. They have never asked anyone for help but when we heard of their situation we felt that as friends, we could not stand by and do nothing while a fellow photographer needed assistance. So the SACC is launching an appeal to try to help make their lives a tiny bit easier.
Our appeal to you works on three levels.
Firstly, we are asking photographers to give us mounted prints which we will sell at modest prices during an event we plan to hold in the Horse and Jockey Hotel, Thurles, County Tipperary, on 1st November. Any sized mounted prints are acceptable. Framed images are also welcome. Please give us one or two of your best or favourite images so that we can sell them to raise funds.
Secondly, please come to our print sale on 1st November and buy a print. Maybe your club will need prizes or items for presentations over the next while, so maybe you could buy prints for that purpose? There will be a large selection available to suit different budgets and tastes, including images from many of Ireland’s top photographers. Internationally-known photographers from outside Ireland have already offered to donate prints to the sale.
Thirdly, please make a direct personal or club contribution to the fund. All contributions received will be acknowledged. Anything you can give, no matter how small, will help.
We are in the process of setting up a SACC-managed fund, all of the proceeds of which will go towards helping with Morgan’s medical care. A link giving details of the account will appear shortly on the SACC website www.sacc.ie (as you can appreciate, this is taking longer than we would wish, but that’s how banks operate these days). Again, I must stress, not a single cent from the fund will be used for any other purpose than to help Morgan and his family.
I have been chairman of the SACC for almost two years. In that time we have organised many successful events and activities. But in our opinion this appeal is the most important project that we have undertaken.
Please help us to help Morgan and his family. This is about photographers helping a fellow photographer, friends helping a friend.
If you have any queries, please feel free to contact me (my personal email address is email@example.com) or any member of the SACC committee (John Doheny, John Hogan, Niamh Whitty, Neily Curtin).
My telephone number is 087-8113611.
Southern Association of Camera Clubs.