FOR THE first time since the event was launched 50 men and women of the Southwark Irish Pensioners Project may not make it to the St Patrick’s Day Parade in London this weekend.
With just a few days to go until one of the highlights of their year takes place, they have learnt that the double decker bus annually provided by Millwall Football Club to allow them to take part in the parade has broken down and will not be fixed in time for the big day.
Now, with just three days until the Mayor of London's festivities kick off in Trafalgar Square, the group is hopeful that some charitable knight in shining armour may come to their rescue.
“We have held St Patrick’s Day and Christmas celebrations for our pensioners in the Executive Suite at Millwall FC for several years,” SIPP Project Manager Rita Andrews told The Irish Post today.
“About five years ago we realised that many of our pensioners were not as nimble as they once were and found the parade too much for them, which was such a shame as we have taken part in the parade every year. But the club offered us the use of the Millwall community bus - along with the driver – which we have used for our less able bodied pensioners, every year since.”
She explained: “It’s a double decker bus with around 50 seats which we decorate with flags from the four provinces and all sorts of St Patrick’s Day paraphernalia.”
However this year the aging vehicle was in need of repairs and despite Millwall FC’s best efforts to have the work done in time for this weekend's St Patrick’s Day Parade in London, the bus just won’t be ready in time, Ms Andrews explained.
“This year, unfortunately, the bus is sick and the part needed to fix it cannot be found due to the age of the vehicle,” she added.
“We only found out last week, as Millwall were trying hard to get it all sorted before the parade, but unfortunately that hasn’t happened. So now we face telling our pensioners that we don’t have transport for the parade so only those who can walk can take part!”
But the Southwark-based group is still hopeful that they may find a generous supporter who can help find transport for the group on the day, addiing: “I know it’s very last minute but if anyone can help at all, I would urge them to please contact me.”
If you can help contact Rita Andrews on 020 7237 5841 or email [email protected]://http://irishpost.co.uk