Passionate advocate Tracy named Meath Family Carer of the Year

Devoted Fordstown mum Tracy Carroll has been named Netwatch Meath Family Carer of the Year.

Tracy cares full-time for her gorgeous daughter Willow (5), who has spastic quadriplegia cerebral palsy and epilepsy, is non-verbal, a wheelchair user, PEG-fed and has a range of complex medical needs and also cares for her son Noah (8) who has ADHD.

Supported by husband John, Tracy has fought incredibly hard to secure essential supports and services for her children including her daughter’s right to an education.

Tracy is a formidable and determined advocate for all family carers and has spoken out publicly on many occasions to help highlight the difficulties facing family carers and in support of equal rights for children with additional needs.

Tracy Carroll with daughter Willow (5), i sNetwatch Meath Family Carer of the Year.

Now in their 15th year, the Netwatch Family Carer of the Year Awards seek to recognise and shine a light on the remarkable contribution of the more than half a million people in Ireland who provide care at home to loved ones such as children or adults with additional needs, physical or intellectual disabilities, frail older people, those with palliative care needs or those living with chronic illnesses, mental health challenges or addiction.

The 19 million hours of unpaid care provided each week by family carers would cost the State €20bn a year to replace. Family carers often go unnoticed in the community despite the immense workload they take on and the significant commitment they show to those that they care for. This has particularly been the case during the pandemic with many left increasingly isolated.

Family Carers Ireland Community Support Manager for Louth and Meath, Páraic McGahey said:

"Tracy is a fantastic mother and also a very selfless person who is so supportive of many while also battling for her own children. She radiates positivity when the light at the end of the tunnel is dimming."

“Caring for a loved one at home can be rewarding but it can also be challenging, particularly in the absence of vital supports and services including respite.

This can take a toll on a person’s physical, mental, financial and social wellbeing. Often, a person can find themselves taking on the role of a family carer with little or no warning.

"These are mums, dads, sons, daughters, siblings, relatives, friends and colleagues who sometimes don’t even see themselves as family carers. They are doing extraordinary work that is too often unseen and undervalued.

“These awards are an important event in our calendar every year as we seek to provide some small recognition to all of those who care at home for loved ones with additional needs and to ensure their stories are heard.

“As a charity, we want family carers to know that they are not alone and that we are here to help them no matter where they find themselves on their caring journey. As a society, we must ensure that family carers are not only recognised for their immense contribution, but truly supported to care safely at home.”

Páraic McGahey, Carers Support Meath and Louth with Alex Irwin from Network Ireland with Tracy Carroll and Willow.

Mick Galwey, Netwatch Brand Ambassador, said: “Family carers are the backbone of our local communities and the Netwatch Family Carer of the Year Awards offer a chance to highlight their sheer tenacity, selflessness and resilience.

"We have learnt more than ever over the last two years just how important caring is. Family carers are ordinary people we know doing extraordinary work behind closed doors. It is only right that we champion their contribution and to be a part of that is very special to me and to Netwatch.”