The sudden death of popular Letterkenny businessman Richard Finney in September sent shockwaves through the local community.
As the founder and owner of two popular local businesses, The Counter Deli and New Kid Coffee, Richard was a well-known and recognisable face about town and across Donegal.
His passing understandably devastated his wife Olivia and the couple’s children as well as his family and many, many friends, colleagues and acquaintances.
The Counter Deli remained closed in the days after Richard’s passing as those closest to Richard tried to figure out a way forward.
The Counter first took to social media to announce the sad news of the loss of this gentle yet driven soul to the town.
“We are devastated to share with you all the sad news of the sudden passing of our very own Richard Finney. Not one person who met Richard would have a bad word to say about our VERY tall and VERY bald boss and friend. Richard was a gentle giant who had time for everyone – he was an absolute gent who was always up for a laugh and a bit of craic. He was also an inspirational entrepreneur and became an expert in anything he set his mind to – accountancy (though he would prefer we didn’t draw attention to this!), wine and let’s not forget a quality cup of coffee! Together with Olivia, he built the Counter and, more recently, New Kid Coffee from scratch – two amazing businesses loved by locals here in Letterkenny and across all of Ireland.”
The decision around re-opening was difficult, given the impact Richard’s death had, not only on the family and staff, but also on The Counter’s many customers.
In order to re-open with a positive purpose despite the sad circumstances, Olivia, Richard’s wife and business partner, decided that all proceeds from teas and coffees purchased on the day of re-opening would be donated to Pieta House, with a donation jar left out for the week for anyone wanting to donate.
Pieta House was always a charity very close to Richard’s heart.
The Counter was a passionate supporter of Pieta’s “Darkness Into Light” campaign for several years.
Each year, the “Darkness Into Light” walk in Letterkenny provides an opportunity for people to connect with their local community and to bring hope to people who have been impacted by suicide.
Annually, the Counter kept its lights switched on during the morning of this event and would welcome in bleary eyed walkers for a much-needed coffee, very often served by Richard himself, with all proceeds going to Pieta House.
The Counter re-opened on Tuesday 19th September and it proved to be a very tough day for both staff and customers, with everyone keen to share their own stories and memories of Richard.
All week, Elaine and all the staff manned the donation jar and were both shocked and delighted to see the level of donations flooding in daily – a true testament to how highly thought of Richard was by the locals, and also Letterkenny’s support for the wonderful Pieta House.
Each evening, Elaine delivered the total donations to the eagerly awaiting Mia and Matthew, Richard’s children, who took on the task of counting up the money – clearly the off-spring of two accountants!
The total raised during the course of that week was an impressive €5,192.83, and with another €370 sent afterwards.
The Counter still has a donation box available in the shop, with Olivia’s dad Jim making trips round to drop off on a regular basis.
On receipt of the donations, Pieta said: “Your support allows Pieta to provide free services to people in crisis. Pieta also provides a 24-hour Freephone Crisis Helpline and Text service and our Suicide Bereavement Liaison Officers (SBLO’s) provide therapy and support to families who have been bereaved. 80% of Pieta’s income is received through fundraisers and donations, support from people like you is vital to us. You make our life-saving counselling services possible. Through your kindness and generosity, you are ensuring that we can continue helping those in crisis.”
Richard’s wider family have asked that a few people are acknowledged following his tragic passing.
Olivia – during the most difficult time for you and everyone around you, you brought Richard’s family, friends and colleagues, and all of Letterkenny together with a positive purpose in such sad circumstances – thank you.
Elaine, Keith and all the Counter and New Kid staff – for sticking together and keeping going, continuing to serve us all with amazing coffee despite your own loss, and for co-ordinating all the fundraising efforts.
Mia and Matthew – for diligently working hard to count up the many donations so carefully and accurately under the watchful eye of Grandad Jim.
The customers of the Counter – for your kindness, your generosity and the ongoing support shown – thanks to each and every one of you.
Thanks also to Paul, one of our loyal customers, who has secured for Pieta House a long term advertisement in a national magazine in Richard’s memory.