Our Blarney & District Person of the Month for January 2019 is Blarney Toddler Group team leader Ruth Hockey, as the group celebrates an incredible 20 years this month.
On Tuesday 9th February 1999, the recently renovated and renamed Church of the Resurrection in Blarney opened its doors on the first morning of an adventure. This was to be an adventure filled with fun, food, friendship and families, toys, tea (and coffee!), talk and trust, songs, stories, support and sharing, crafts, creativity, kindness and chaos (organised!), play, painting, people and prayer.
The group began as an off-shoot of Carrigrohane Parent and Toddler group (now known as Sparks). With a small team and only a handful of parents and children, the group set up to share God’s love and serve the community in Blarney and surrounding areas. Whilst Ruth Hockey and Alice Good are the only two original members involved, many others have given years of faithful service and there have always been new people to join the team as others move on.
One of the many special things about Blarney Toddler Group is the unity they enjoy as members of different church traditions. The team has always been drawn from both the Church of Ireland and Roman Catholic communities who pray together for the group each Tuesday morning and keep a prayer request and suggestions box on their resource tables. People arrive at the church gates from 9.40am each Tuesday and the group can safely fit 70 people in the building. Such is the groups popularity that, at times over the years, they have had to shut the gates for everyone’s comfort and safety. The group has a registration book, which may not even have been signed by everybody, and know that around 700 adults have passed through their doors, not to mention the all-important babies and toddlers who come with them!
Many people tell of their fond memories of their time at Toddlers. They speak of it as a lifeline during the busy, and sometimes stressful and isolating period of parenthood, and of friendships which have lasted over the years as children have grown up. Some mums continue to meet regularly and even holiday together, au pairs have made connections with other au pairs and host families and sometimes whole families have built relationships, all that began over a cup of tea at Toddlers!