it is hoped that a new drive for volunteers and funding will help the Oxygen Therapy Centre to open on a full-time basis.
At present, the Magheramorne-based centre opens only on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday because of the rising costs of running the premises.
Centre manager, Vickie Shaw, explained that the centre remains closed on Tuesday and Thursday to try to save on electricity and heating expenses.
But, with people from as far away as Donegal and Bangor making regular use of the centre, there is still very much a need to be met.
“We really depend on support and donations from local businesses and the public,” said Vickie. “Together with our dedicated team of volunteers, that’s how we are able to stay open.”
The centre, which has been in the Larne area since 1988, It offers treatment in a specialised pressure chamber where patients can breathe Hyperbaric Oxygen (HBO). HBO is not a cure but can be effective in helping to heal wounds and avoid deterioration in illnesses such as Multiple Sclerosis. The centre also offers electromagnetic therapy on a special bed. Many patients now use both therapies and find it helps with a variety of neurological conditions, sports injuries and breathing problems.
The valuable work carried out by volunteers was praised at the presentation of first aid certificates on Friday, when thanks were expressed to all those who give up their time to help with the running of the centre.
“The work that the volunteers do is simply vital. They help operate the oxygen chamber and electro-magnetic bed, as well as other day-to-day tasks and fund-raising.
“We couldn’t do without them, and we’d love to have even more. We don’t need any particular experience, as all training will be given, but our volunteers need to be friendly and of a caring and sympathetic nature,” she said.
If anyone can spare an morning or afternoon, then Vickie would be very glad to hear from them on 028 2827 4670 and can run through any queries they might have.
Vickie explained that, as well as depending on the willing band of volunteers, the centre relies on donations to keep it going.
“It is becoming ever more costly to run the centre. We don’t charge people to use our facilities, but instead they give donations based on what they feel they can afford,” said Vickie.
“We do have great support from throughout the community, from the business sector and from individuals, and all this is very gratefully received.”
The latest fundraising drive in aid of the centre will be a fashion show on Friday, August 24, from 8pm, in St Comgall’s Club. Menary’s are providing the fashions and with the latest styles from Dash, Autonomy, Eastex and Wallis, there really will be something for everyone.
Tickets cost £5 and are available from Menary’s, Larne Tourist Information Centre and Inver Garden Centre.
Admission is also available by paying at the door.