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Tuesday 5 December 2023 Dublin: 5°C
daffodil day

Daff Man has a brand new suit - but you might not get to see it out and about for a while

Daffodil Day is cancelled, but James Gilleran is hoping people will give what they can.

daffodil-day-launch Andres Poveda James Gilleran - aka Daff Man - pictured here earlier this year in his new suit with Shannen Joyce two time cancer survivor, and Stephen Teap, who lost his wife to cancer. Andres Poveda

The Irish Cancer Society has said their website is currently experiencing heavy traffic, and that people looking to donate should instead text DAFFODIL to 50300, call 1850 60 60 60, visit their Facebook, or simply check their website again later today.

IF YOU’VE EVER found yourself on Dublin’s O’Connell Street on Daffodil Day, one volunteer in particular might have stood out: Daff Man.

Each year, for more than a decade, he sets up shop wearing a suit covered with the Irish Cancer Society’s iconic daffodil pins, calling for donations and posing for photos.

He was involved in fundraising long before that, after losing his father to cancer on Christmas Eve. His mother also battled the disease and survived. One day he approached the fundraisers on O’Connell – parked up in a caravan, more than two decades ago – and asked how he could help.

But this year, there is no Daffodil Day. The fundraising event was cancelled earlier this month as the scale of the threat from the pandemic became apparent.

The money raised provides services including counselling support, transportation .and practical advice on dealing with a cancer diagnosis. The charity is now expected to take a financial hit.

That’s at the forefront of Daff Man’s mind, but there’s another disappointing twist for him, whose real name is James Gilleran:

“Last September somebody came to the Irish Cancer Society and said, ‘We’ll do James’s new boiler suit for him’. So I got my new boiler suit in January, and I only wore it the launch.

“I was looking forward to Daffodil Day,” James told us yesterday, “really looking forward to the suit having its first proper day out.”

photo6048584907061571989 A friendly neighbour Daff Man donned the new suit yesterday for us - here he is in his back garden. A friendly neighbour

The new and improved suit was created by designer Ofelia Haislund.

James is supportive of the decision to cancel Daffodil Day, being in the best interests of everyone involved.

He hopes, however, that people will still remember the work of the Irish Cancer Society and throw them a few bob:

Hopefully it won’t be a huge loss for them. I think Irish people, as good as we are, will dig deep as we much as we can.

“And if we don’t have it now, because of the situation, everyone is a bit short of money, maybe only getting the coronavirus payment from the government, but when we get back up and running, hopefully in two or three months, then they can say, ‘Right, I couldn’t give on Daffodil Day, but I’ll give now’, or down the road, not to forget the Cancer Society. I know some people might not be able to afford it right now.”

The money raised by the Irish Cancer Society goes towards a range of cancer support services, ranging from a freephone advice line, face-to-face information and support at Daffodil Centres, a Night Nursing service providing free end-of-life care which allows patients to spend their final days at home, financial aid, as well as boots-on-the-ground volunteers who give lifts to chemotherapy appointments for patients struggling with transportation.

James, who has been volunteering with the Irish Cancer Society for 25 years now, also learned the value of their service recently. His husband passed away in recent years, not from cancer, and the charity provided a night nurse for his final day at home before going into a hospice. / YouTube

In a statement today, CEO of the Irish Cancer Society Averil Power said they were ‘blown away’ with the response from the public when Daffodil Day was cancelled, when there was an outpouring of goodwill.

“Each year more than 40,000 people are diagnosed with cancer – unfortunately this will remain the case even with the coronavirus outbreak,” she said in a statement.

What’s more is there are approximately 200,000 people in Ireland living with and beyond cancer, many of whom are at a higher risk of developing a serious illness if they catch coronavirus.
This is why it is more important than ever that we support people with cancer.

Power added that Cancer Nurseline hours have been extended, and that remote counselling sessions are being funded. Pins are still available from Boots.

James might still get to give the suit an airing – he’s considering going for a cycle later today around Dublin.

If you see a man on a bike, dressed in a suit made of daffodils, calling out for donations, it’s probably going to be him.

The Irish Cancer Society has said their website is currently experiencing heavy traffic, and that people looking to donate should instead text DAFFODIL to 50300, call 1850 60 60 60, visit their Facebook, or simply check their website again later today.

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