Phyllis Reynolds Community Hero January 2017
Phyllis Reynolds nee Doherty is originally from Porthall, Lifford. She met and married her late husband Joe, R.I.P. a Leitrim man who worked as a customs official, and after a number of moves they eventually settled in the Twin Towns area, almost 50 years ago. The couple had a family of four daughters, Mary who is a nurse, Ann a music teacher, Bernie a nurse and Margaret a solicitor. Phyllis now has seven grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren whom she enjoys spending time with.
Sadly, they were only in their new home six months when Joe passed away at a young age and Phyllis found herself a widow at the age of 50. At that time, Phyllis was taking driving lessons and this combined with her love of gardening became her saving grace after Joe’s death. His motto had always been “to help anyone who needed help” and Phyllis who was very much of the same mind decided that if anyone needed her, she would be there. During the following years, she helped her family in whatever way she was required, caring for her mother and travelling to England twice yearly to help her elderly sister with her garden. Phyllis also cared for a sick grandchild and continues to care for family members when needed. She also enjoys taking the time to visit her many neighbours and friends.
As time went on, Phyllis gradually became involved in community and was invited to become a member of the local Tidy Towns group by her neighbour and friend Margaret O’Brien. She continues to be a very active member and has no problem taking part in the local clean-ups, indeed, she can be found in the parish centre organising the areas and giving out bags and pickers at every clean up as well as picking up litter. She can also be seen planting and weeding the flowerbeds along the street and on the approach roads into the town. Phyllis has been involved with Madelene Doherty in the Gardening Club for several years and has no plans to stop anytime soon.
Being a keen gardener it’s no surprise that Phyllis would gravitate towards the local Gardening Club and after an invitation from her good friend, Madelene Doherty, she became involved. The group regularly takes trips to view gardens and are also involved in the planting of summer annuals in the flower beds in town. Phyllis is a lady with a wealth of knowledge when it comes to the subject of gardening and the growing of vegetables. Over the years, she has also amassed knowledge and honed her skills to an extent that she can identify garden pests at and early stage and their habits, a skill which she uses to the full, enabling her to grow organic vegetables which she harvests, freezes and has a plentiful supply of all year round. She does not use spray’s, on her vegetables, her only weapon being a bucked of salt and water for the pests and her expert eye at spotting the various insects that can damage her crops. Having a hunger for knowledge regarding this hobby she states that if she was younger she would love to build her skills and complete a course on Horticulture or Entomology (the scientific study of insects).
Sewing and Freddie Bags
Being a creative person her talents don’t stop at gardening as she is also a dab hand with the needle and thread. Over the years, she has made all manner of garments such as coats and dresses for family and friends. In the last number of years, her great grandchild, Louise who was eight at the time was being treated for leukaemia in the Children’s Hospital in Crumlin and she discovered that the children there needed bags which they could use to hold a medical device called a Hickman line or Freddie (as it has become known in St. John’s ward in Crumlin). This line is attached to their body for the treatment of cancer and allows for intravenous treatment such as the administration of chemotherapy, blood transfusions and other IV infusions for the children while at home. As these bags were in short supply, Phyllis set about trying to make them and asked the hospital for one which she could use as a template. Using the template, she made a few bags and sent them up to the hospital with her great grandchild. Upon seeing the bags the nurse who was so grateful for them became emotional and began to cry because they were under so much stress trying to supply these to the children.
She now regularly sends 50 bags at a time to the hospital. These Freddie Bags allow the children to continue in as normal a fashion as possible and take part in school and other activities etc. There is a constant supply of bags needed all the time and Phyllis would appeal to anyone who can sew to help out and make some bags for the hospitals.
Age is only a number
At 87 Phyllis believes that age is only a number and there is always something useful we can do no matter what age we are. She believes firmly that those who retire should get involved more and take part in their community as they have the time, the talents and the experience that they can bring to countless numbers of groups and organisations who need help in the form of volunteers. On this note she appeals for volunteers for the Tidy Towns, and the Garden Club who give great service to the community and enhance the area for the benefit of all.
As well as her busy schedule Phyllis loves to visit her family and is thankful that she is now getting an opportunity to spend more time with her daughters, three of whom have now retired themselves. Reading is another pastime and as she puts it, she loves to read “rubbish” and always has a book at hand from the All Seasons Charity Shop who also do great work for the community. She loves to travel and has visited Italy, Paris, Prague, Poland, New York, Auschwitz and visited her brother when he lived in South Africa. Last year Phyllis climbed Mount Vesuvius in Italy and the next destination on her travel agenda is Berlin.
Phyllis believes firmly in her life’s motto of “Any favour she can bestow on her fellow man” and lives it every day. She states that “a busy life is good” and she certainly has a busy life and no plans to sit back. In our opinion she is a perfect example to us all of someone who uses their talents in the best way possible for the good of their fellow man and a most worthy recipient of the Finn Valley Centre Community Hero. We are delighted, that after some persuasion, this reluctant hero eventually agreed to be featured.