This week our motoring report comes via the road travelled in the shoes of one of the very few that has opted to make a journey every day in this lockdown.
It is about one of the many who volunteered up their time to do what they consider just a small part in the bigger effort to fight this pandemic.
Before this Stephen Roarty’s journey into work in Letterkenny from the Blue Banks outside Kilmacrennan where he lives was like joining a massive mobile car park every morning with traffic backing up in tailbacks into the town.
Now Stephen meets no one on this same journey on the recently realigned N56
Stephen works in the store in Hegarty’s Ford garage in Letterkenny and as the restrictions of this pandemic arrived and the garage closed, Stephen asked if he could take the loan of a van.
The owner of the garage, Andrew Hegarty, gave it to him with a heart and asked “What do you want it for?’ to which Stephen said, “I don’t know yet”.
Stephen has worked in the motor trade in some sort or other all his working life and in between that he worked in Unifi as well.
But it was his early days at the old Starlite Service Station on the Port Road that Stephen thinks a lot about in these times.
“The late Danny Caddye gave me the start in the old bicycle and van hire shop. I left school early but I feel I learned more in those early years about life from Danny Caddye, things like knowing not to leave anyone stuck,” Stephen recalled.
Now this lockdown is a break down of a different sort and it’s not even a job as in work but more like something that Stephen does in his leisure time, that of helping in the coaching of young children in soccer and GAA.
“Now I go out to deliver meals I feel I’m still only on the touchline but now the goalposts have moved and now it’s a senior team I’m working with, trying to coach and motivate them when I knock on the front door to deliver their meals. I’m trying to reassure them that their efforts are working, and they are winning, they are the ones that are playing a blinder in defence, they are my stars.
“At the start of this people were a bit apprehensive about answering their door, but over time they are now waiting for you. My team, those who are cocooning at their homes and those who are cooking through chef aid at the Honeypot in Letterkenny are the hero’s scoring the big points in this battle, they are all the big players and Steven feels he is just a part of the process.
“Margaret Toner was the link for me, from Manorcunningham (where I’m originally from myself) who got me teamed up through the Donegal Volunteer Centre, and after the Garda vetting completed I was on the road,” Stephen said. “Now I meet very few on the road that I travel but regularly go through Garda checkpoints. My point of contact is at the front door, from a distance, where meals are delivered the food of life for fellow humans, conversation is also exchanged.”
Stephen, who is into his classic cars, finds that a lot of the men that he delivers meals to have a great common memory of cars and enjoy a chat about days gone by.
Some days he uses the van that Andy gave him but most days it’s easier to use my own car to do my run.
“I have a few calls in Letterkenny and then I generally head up over the Mountaintop in the direction of Kilmacrennan, people are very good in these difficult times.
“Every day we find something different that we can tweak to make adjustments to the service to make it as good as it can be. Some people don’t like gravy, some like peas, some have dietary requirements like Celiacs all of which are catered for by the Chef Aid team and all the volunteers in Letterkenny based at the Honeypot, a team that I feel very humbled to be a part of.
“My last word is that of thanks to my wife Helena and our wanes who are my coaching team who support and believe in me from their touchline, every day that I head out the gate from my home to go on this journey to try and play my part.”
Happy Motoring Folks.Tags: