Special service marks home’s 30th anniversary

10.2.2023 | Mission News, Social Witness, Church Life, Commemorations

Around 200 people - families of former and current residents, and members of staff, together with many guests, including local councillors - came together today for a special Service of Thanksgiving to celebrate 30 years since the official opening of Omagh’s Harold McCauley House.

The only nursing home managed by the Presbyterian Church in Ireland’s Council for Social Witness, can accommodate 32 residents with 24 hour nursing care. Situated in a secluded, tranquil setting close to the town centre with views of the Camowen River, the home is primarily for older people, who are cared for in a non-denominational Christian environment.

Since the formation of the Presbyterian Orphan and Children’s society in 1866, the Presbyterian Church in Ireland has played a key role in ministering to the physical needs of people. This approach continues today at home and overseas, and though its homes, including Harold McCauley House, and support units alongside the work of its congregations on the ground across Ireland.

Those attending the Service, which took place in First Omagh Presbyterian Church, were welcomed by the minister, Rev Jane Nelson, with residents and staff who were unable to attend in person watching via live stream in the home. Two residents took part, with Joey McGrew reading Psalm 71:1-3, while Jenny Jones prayed a prayer of thanksgiving.

During the service Rev John Murdoch, who was minister of First Omagh when Harold McCauley opened gave the lesson, with the thanksgiving reflection on behalf of the relatives given by Father Joe Gormley of Holy Family Church, Ballmagroarty, Londonderry. After the service everyone who attended stayed for a special afternoon tea in the church hall, including, Joan McCauley, the niece of the late Harold McCauley, who gifted the land so that the home could be built. Music was provided by local musicians, St Eugene’s Silver Band.

Having undertaken one of the readings during the service, Home Manager, Michelle Murray thanked everyone for coming and spoke about the celebration. “This has been a very special day as we celebrated and gave thanks for the 30 years since the official opening of Harold McCauley House. I started my journey with the home as a student nurse and knew straight away that I wanted to work here. Eleven years on I am so honoured to be head of home,” she said.

“Harold McCauley is a special place and has been a home to many people over the years. A place where everyone is welcome and its Christian ethos is so important. It is a testament to that special environment that has seen so many members of staff stay. Testimony to their dedication is the fact that two of our colleague’s Ruth Mitchell and Wesley Crawford marked 20 years of service last year. Today is also a real privilege to honour Trudie Hawkes and Shirley Hetherington for 30 years’ service. Shirley was here when Harold McCauley opened and Trudie started a little while afterwards. I think everyone will agree that it has been a very special day.”

Speaking after the Service of Thanksgiving, Wendy Kelly, PCI’s Social Care Support Manager said, “Today has been a wonderful opportunity for the staff, residents and guests to celebrate 30 years of care and support at Harold McCauley House. For three decades our home has supported many people and their families and since their last anniversary the residents and staff have had to cope with the difficulties and isolation of the Covid pandemic. With that in mind, I would like to take this opportunity to thank again all the nursing and care staff, kitchen staff, housekeeping and laundry staff, maintenance staff, activity staff and clerical officer for their dedication and determination to keep the residents safe and well throughout that time.

“Special mention must also be made of Michelle Murray, the home manager. Michelle recently won the RCN Canavan Award, which will enable her to complete further training in dementia care, as she continues to lead the whole team with expertise and compassion,” she said.

Ms Kelly concluded by saying, “When the home was opened 30 years ago the vision was to provide a Christian environment for those living and working there. Through the support of the staff, daily devotions, church services and special celebrations that vision continues to be realised within the home. We give special thanks today for God’s provision and for the compassion and care shown on a daily basis, which enables the residents to celebrate the love and joy of Jesus.”

Along with the three hymns that were sung, Jacqueline Hunter, a clerical assistant at the home who helped to organise the anniversary celebrations, sang Matt Redman’s worship song ‘Bless the Lord oh my soul’. At the close of the service, the Moderator of PCI’s Presbytery of Omagh, Rev Clarke Deering, minister of Fintona, Ballynahatty and Creevan Presbyterian Churches gave the Benediction and said the Grace.

Photos (1) Rev John Murdoch who was minister of First Omagh when Harold McCauley House opened cuts the anniversary cake with home manager Michelle Murray (2) Rev Jane Nelson welcoming people to the Service of Thanksgiving (3) the afternoon tea in the church hall with music provided by St Eugene's Silver Band.

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