Buddy bench ‘a way to reach out to Stephanie’

by Emma Nolan

A BENCH has been installed in Clonskeagh in remembrance of local woman, Stephanie O’Connell (nee Simpson) who passed away earlier this year.

Our Lady’s NS Clonskeagh held a ceremony last week to mark the dedication of a “Buddy Bench” in remembrance of Stephanie, who was a former pupil of Our Lady’s NS Clonskeagh and also an active member of the Parents’ Association,

The 46-year-old mother-of-two died in March after a short illness. She is remembered by her two children, Ryan (9) and Ben (14); her husband, Peter; twin sister ,Tracy, and many friends, family and members of the Our Lady’s school community.

The ceremony to mark the dedication of the bench was held on November 18 and was attended by family and friends of Stephanie, children of the school, staff and parents.

The school choir sang hymns and one of Stephanie’s favourite songs, Flower of Scotland, with Fr Larkin from Clonskeagh Parish blessing the bench.

Stephanie’s friend, Anne Weadick, told The Gazette that although it has been a very sad time the ceremony was a lovely celebration and remembrance of a very special friend.

Speaking at the ceremony, school principal Gerard Heneghan paid tribute to Stephanie who “made our school community a happier, more fulfilled place by her kindness, thoughtfulness and generosity of spirit”.

“We thank her for sharing her time with us; for always being available and practical. No fuss, just got on with it.

“Whatever was needed, she had the answer. We will miss her ready smile and willing heart,” he added.

Anne said that through the Buddy Bench, Stephanie will “continue to extend the hand of friendship”.

“Stephanie would be delighted to think that for many years to come, that this buddy bench will help other children become friends and buddies,” she said.

The Parents’ Association raised funds towards the cost of the bench, which was designed and made by Peter Lennon from St Tiernan’s Community School.

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