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AN ENNIS mother of two is in the running to be named as the carer of the year.

Clare Sydney has already been announced as the Netwatch Clare and Munster Family Carer of the Year and on Thursday (today) attends the National Final alongside her husband Darum and twin children Isabella and Anthony James where Miriam O’Callaghan will announce which regional finalist wins the Family Carer of the Year award.

The annual awards seek to recognise and shine a light on the remarkable contribution of Ireland’s forgotten frontline who go the extra mile every day in caring for loved ones with additional needs. More than 500,000 people in Ireland provide unpaid care in the home for children or adults with physical or intellectual disabilities, frail older people, those with palliative care needs or those living with chronic illnesses, mental ill-health, or addiction. The 19 million hours of unpaid care provided each week by family carers would cost the state €20bn a year to replace.

From Corrovorrin, Clare is the daughter of Margaret and legendary journalist Tony Mulvey formerly of The Clare Champion.

Speaking to The Clare Echo, Clare admitted it was an honoured to be selected as the county winner never mind securing provincial recognition. “I was delighted, a little bit embarrassed and questioning if I deserved it but it’s my everyday life and what I do is normal for me, I don’t know any different. I have Isabella and AJ, they’re twins, they are my only two”.

Isabella was born with a very rare condition called Lumbosacral Agenesis from birth which necessitates her using a wheelchair as her legs were amputated at the age of 7. Now aged twelve years old, Isabella attends Ennis CBS with her twin brother. “I wouldn’t have it any other way, she is the light in all of our lives, there’s no work in her, I know looking from the outside in it might seem that way but on the inside trust me she is just brilliant. Her twin brother is brilliant too of course,” Clare said.

Having lived in London for nineteen years, the idea of returning to her native place was first suggested by her husband Darum who was born in London and whose parents hail from The Caribbean following on from Isabella’s surgeries. “It had never entered my brain before, he said ‘to be honest they are always here and I’d probably have a quieter house if I lived over there because there was always someone calling whether it was my parents, aunties or cousins, brother or sister, there was always someone sleeping on the couch, I said I did and we made the decision, within ten minutes I rang my Mam and said we would be moving home. We gave ourselves two years to make sure Isabella was ok and that we could definitely maintain everything, I was afraid with the healthcare here but the healthcare has been amazing here, people have been really helpful”.

On top of home-schooling and caring for her daughter, Clare received a cancer diagnosis last March. “Everything is okay, I will be going for my check-up in December, I’m confident and don’t see why things wouldn’t be okay. It was a shock to be told you had cancer on the 12th of March, the day they were closing down the schools, it worked in my favour because I was in surgeries within four days, they knew something was coming with the COVID and they offered me surgery, I said yes, dropped the phone and went in for my pre-op and had the surgery on Monday morning, that’s how quick it was, they were phenomenal down in Limerick,” she recalled.

In what promises to be a busy and exciting few days for the Sydney and Mulvey families, they will begin by looking forward to the finals on Thursday and whatever outcome will continue to remain united.

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