Pictured above: Declan taking part in our Abseil fundraising event in Croke Park in August 2023, supported by his family
At Jack and Jill, we are committed to providing a high-quality, transparent and credible service that truly cares, underpinned by an organisation governed and managed in line with best practice and overseen by our Board, who are essentially, unpaid volunteers.
To celebrate Trustees Week, we want to pay tribute to our wonderful Board, past and present, who have given their time, dedication, energy and commitment to Jack and Jill over the past 26 years.
Here is Declan Magee’s Jack and Jill and Me story from our 2022 Annual Report, which we’re proud to say is up for a Carmichael Good Governance Award later this week!
From Irvinestown, Co. Fermanagh, Jack and Jill Children’s Foundation Board member, Declan J. Magee, is a retired general surgeon and past president of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. He has had a long-term involvement in the governance of surgical training and practice in Ireland and had a central role in the development of RCSI’s support for surgical training in sub-Saharan Africa. He is also a director of Blackrock Healthcare Group.
“When I was first approached to explore whether I might be a “fit” for a Board vacancy, I already knew something of the Jack and Jill Children’s Foundation and had seen Mary Ann O’Brien and Jonathan Irwin, when they appeared on The Late Late Show.
Their story of overcoming so many obstacles to provide home care for their son, Jack, for his all-too-short life was truly inspirational and, even more so, their resolve, in the midst of their grief, to use this hard-won experience to create what has become the Jack and Jill Children’s Foundation.
Declan photographed with CEO Carmel Doyle and Liaison Nurse Manager Anne McLoughlin at the opening of our Artane charity boutique in November 2022
The initial approach to me came from Catherine Logan, a Board member, whom I knew from her work with Blackrock Clinic. She explained that, in earlier days, they had been privileged to have Dr Fin Breatnach on the Board and were now seeking a new member with a medical background.
She acknowledged the challenge, common to all charities, of finding individuals with both the necessary skillsets or experience and availability. Likewise, having sat on several Boards, I needed to know more about the likely commitment. As part of an essential two-way “getting-to-knowyou” process, I had a substantial meeting with Chair, Maeve Beggs, and spoke with CEO, Carmel Doyle.
My commitment would involve, at a minimum, four Board meetings per year, being part of the nursing sub-committee – another four meetings – attending a Strategy Day and a Family Fun Day. They were upfront about the considerable work that the position entailed, but their own pride in the organisation, their passion and enthusiasm, was infectious. Joining any Board is not without its risks and the charity sector is no exception.
I had many informal conversations and, having studied previous detailed Annual Reports and the Coventry Report, I was in no doubt about the worth of the Foundation, its values and its robust governance. Once my decision was made to join, I got busy preparing for 4th March 2022, when I would be proposed as a Board member. I was committed to getting to know the charity from the inside-out and the induction process was strong and impressive, led by Chairperson Maeve Beggs, and Deirdre Walsh, Head of Retail and Compliance.
I met the senior management team, including the Heads of Nursing, to understand that core function. I visited Jack and Jill’s charity shops and spent time discussing the retail plan, as fundraising is the lifeblood of this charity. I spent time with the family liaison team to understand the family journey and was impressed at the speed and substance of what I saw and the fact that Jack and Jill has no waiting list, no means test, and no unnecessary paperwork, but instead a robust referral, approval and review process.
The highlight of my induction was being invited to visit a Dublin family. Seeing first-hand what the care meant to them was both humbling and inspiring. Other special days were attending the opening of the Artane charity boutique with my fellow Board member, John O’Leary, and attending the Christmas Lunch and meeting the inspiring Jonathan Irwin.
Declan photographed with his family at Family Fun Day 2023
Attending the Family Fun Day and talking to so many families and nurses was a heart-warming experience. Developing our Strategy 2027 is a key priority. The process began in 2022 by contacting the key stakeholders, listening to what works well and where we can improve. I am keen to see the outputs from that engagement, and to working with the Board and the management team to develop the future roadmap. My journey with Jack and Jill is only just beginning.”