Philomena Doherty moved to Northampton from Ireland in 1965. After she retired and sadly lost her husband, Philomena was eager to reconnect with the community and meet new people. She began attending the Shamrock club at a local community centre every Friday afternoon, along with her sister. In 2012, only 2 years after she first visited, the organiser of the club stepped down and Philomena was put on a 6-month trial as the leader of the Shamrock Club. 8 Years later she still holds that position. The Shamrock Club is a weekly group aimed primarily at Elderly Irish locals, however as Philomena says: ‘we wouldn’t turn anybody away!’ She organises refreshments, dancing, Christmas parties, days out and other such activities to help older Northampton residents, many of them bereaved or isolated, to have a place to socialise, connect and have fun.
Philomena met Teresa, the founder of The McCarthy-Dixon Foundation, as she frequented her Northampton pub: The Swan and Helmet. When the pandemic hit, Teresa thought of Philomena and those at the Shamrock Club, knowing that many of them would be isolated at home. She asked Philomena to send her any names of people who could benefit from a food parcel, and that is exactly what she did. The McCarthy-Dixon organised weekly food parcels for them throughout lockdown and beyond. Philomena said what a difference those packages made:
“Everyone who got a food parcel was over the moon with it. Not just for receiving it but how much was in the bags and the quality of the food in there. They also said how kind and caring the volunteers were who dropped the bags off. Many of the people who received a parcel were pensioners who couldn’t go shopping themselves and they were absolutely delighted to have this arranged for them. Honestly, we can’t thank Teresa and the whole team enough!”
For the time being, the Shamrock Club remains closed due to COVID-19. However, Philomena keeps in contact via phone with most of the usual attendees, checking in with them regularly to see if they need any help or assistance. It seems that Philomena’s kindness extends far beyond her official duties: a truly wonderful member of the community and one who seems to share values with those at the McCarthy-Dixon Foundation.