A Rothesay-based retreat for families who have lost a child continues to make a difference to visitors, as well as helping out local groups.
The John Paul Retreats apartment on Ardbeg Road for bereaved parents and siblings who have lost a child, was opened in 2015, giving parents the chance to escape to the island for up to two weeks.
The charity, which takes referrals from core support group Compassionate Friends and some hospitals, has received almost 100 families from all over the UK and beyond. In January the apartment was fitted with a new central heating system costing almost £4,500, in addition to last year’s installation of triple glazed windows throughout.
Anthony McMahon founded John Paul Retreats in the name of his brother, who passed away in 1984.
He said “Very often we find that losing a kid is something that people don’t expect, so sometimes that can result in compacted grief.
“We are here to bring some support. It makes a huge difference. They always tell us how beneficial it was.”
Val Walton from County Durham, spoke highly of John Paul retreats. Her son Allan died in 2004, a week after the kidney transplant that was supposed to give him his life back. This weekend she will make her third visit. She said: “I would like to shout from the rooftops about John Paul Retreats and urge other grieving parents to visit if they can to feel the same healing that I feel when I’m there.
“Amazingly there is no charge, many of us are in financial difficulty after the death of our child so this is an important factor.”
John Paul Retreats sponsors ‘music inspired by faith’ every Sunday morning on Bute Radio, and will now sponsor the first team of Bute Shinty Club for the next three years .
Anthony said: “It lets local people know what we are all about. And it’s important to support our local community. Hopefully the shinty deal will encourage youngsters on the island to play the sport. If someone is good at something, it’s good to help them develop.”
For more information go to www.johnpaulretreats.org