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Every Penny Kounts – Children’s Hospital Charity

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Every Penny Kounts – Children’s Hospital Charity

Jacqueline interviews Liam Duggan and Suzie Barrett about their charity Koins for Kids

Last Sunday, I was taking a casual promenade down Henry Street when I heard someone calling me over. It was an old friend of mine, Liam Duggan, whom I met thirteen years ago. Liam and, his kindly friend Suzie’s smiling faces greeted me from where they were sitting at their charity table. The sun was shining down on them, almost like they were on a mission from God, ok maybe that’s too far. The merry duo were on a mission though, and had already raised €7500 towards it. Liam was holding a poster up in front of him that read “I might be crazy, but I am going to build a hospital”.

“What do you think? Do you think I am crazy?” Liam asks me. The Hospital will cost an estimated €650 million to build and already €40 million was lost when the location of the hospital was moved. That is money that won’t be made back in the near future. And here is Liam and Suzie, trying to help what has for years been a very awkward situation – maybe there is a touch of madness involved.

Liam Duggan from Sandyford and Suzie Barrett from Louglinstown are both students and have started a charitable fundraising for a charity they are calling “Koins for Kids”, in aid of hospital equipment for the New Children’s Hospital planned for James’ Street. Both of them are parents; Liam has two children, son Cúán (17) and daughter Sarah (8). Suzie has one son, Melvin (13).

“Society was good to me for a long time so I decided to search for the most worthy cause I could think of. Immediately, innocent sufferers came to mind and the New Children’s Hospital was in the news (The Mater site in Bertie Ahern’s old constituency). Initially, I thought I could raise funds through the repatriation of foreign and out of date coins collected through friends and family and a good friend suggested calling it ‘Koins for Kids’ instead of Coins for Kids, because of – I suppose – illiteration.”

I recall him chatting about plans he had for all the old money he was collecting. Liam has been collecting coins for some time. I remember the jar of coins he held up to me back in 2011, little did I know it would eventually grow into a non for profit business and not just remain his hobby.

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Suzie is Liam’s long-standing partner, but also acts as trustee to the charity. They worked together to get this project off the ground. “My partner’s passionate efforts to support innocent sufferers inspired me to support and work as a team with him.” Suzie spends her weekends helping Liam on Grafton Street or Henry Street over the summer months. They are there involving the crowd and selling their lucky pennies in return for a euro.

“We are now selling predecimal pennies as tokens at a price of one euro. I have seen these lucky pennies for sale on the internet in nice packaging for 10 to 16. They are a nice token like the daffodil on daffodil day. We have a source where we get these pennies and there are plenty of them available,” Liam also gets many donors bringing him old coins and new coins that they no longer want to hold on to, from all over the world. They get so much British money in donations that they sometimes travel up north to convert the British coins into Euros.

Liam is studying B.E.S.S at Trinity College Dublin and Suzie is studying B.I.F.E in Bray: “As both of us are trustees and students, we concentrate on the weekends during our summers’ to raise funds on Henry Street and Grafton Street. Occasionally, we get help on the street from some of our friends and family. Thank God I have two lovely children and God forbid I would crumble if either child had to receive treatment in what is going to be a wonderful establishment. My daughter aged eight has actually taken part in the fundraising and is aware that this is a great cause and should not be delayed.”

Liam has had his ups and downs when it comes to trading on the streets of Dublin, even though it is a non-for-profit business, he still had to climb the mountain to avoid legal action or being asked by the Gardai to remove himself from areas like Grafton Street on trading days. He eventually got the thumbs up from the Gardai in town and now has an easier time working towards their target of €20,000, with no hassle or complications.

“The ball was almost going to stop when by chance I met a Professor in Law who specialised in charity law and offered his services for free. He in a few months drafted our governing document and Deed of Trust and gave us advice on dealing with banks and the Revenue Commissioner’s office. Having lost contact details of this gentleman for a while we had a second chance meeting in a restaurant and have now after a considerable length of time completed all the necessary information and bureaucracy and have finalized our voluntary charitable organization.”

The New Children’s Hospital will be built on the St. James’s Hospital grounds. The hospital has been in the news lately again as the plans for the building was unveiled on the 1st May 2015. Back in 2012 An Bord Pleanála decided to turn planning permission down for the original site at the Mater ground, which led to the St James’ site being eventually chosen. The hospital will, if all goes well, be finished by mid 2019. Planning admission will be put in at the end of next month with An Bord Pleanála, and then building will commence early 2016.

Liam is very positive about the location at St. James’ and said about the new site: “With the satellite hospitals and the overall space on the campus of St. James’ hospital it is for better than the Mater site. Also it is closer to the all ready existing maternity unit. There is ample car parking beneath the structure, good access to the Luas, and also overnight stay facilities for family.”

Liam, a very passionate person, is full of hope for the future of “Koins for Kids”. So what is all the money for and where will it be going to then?

“We are fund raising for the provision of whatever essential equipment is needed for the New Children’s Hospital, once it is built. In funding for the equipment we are making sure that the funds go directly to the innocent sufferer rather than the management or executive. As it stands, we are putting all our fundraising efforts into the New Children’s Hospital, but we will direct our efforts elsewhere once this endeavour is complete, but still focusing on innocent sufferers. We have applied for a grant that the Dublin Bus are making available to community projects and are hoping to hear about this in August 2015.”

Liam and Susi have a website called “Koins for Kids” – www.koinsforkids.ie – and were gifted by a web developer friend who did this for them for free. They have been helped by very supportive friends and family members to get all of this done and a lot of donations to make it work. Even I had to help out for a few hours and thoroughly enjoyed watching Liam talking to the public and getting their support. Some donors arrived there with bags of old coins and promises were made by many to bring in their old and foreign coins.

Charitable donations are welcome if you can’t find Liam and Susi on Grafton or Henry Street, go to their website: “The bank details are on the website under the contact tab. www.koinsforkids.ieLiam and Suzie will be on Grafton or Henry over the weekends this summer. If you have any old pennies you don’t want anymore, why not take it to Liam and Suzie, you won’t be able to miss their big white posters. Every penny kounts!

2 Responses

  1. Liam Duggan says:

    Thanks Siobhan. Hope all’s good with you.

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