Over 100 people attended a special Service of Celebration has taken place at Ebrington Presbyterian Church last week to celebrate and acknowledge the work, witness and legacy of Ard Cluan House, the Presbyterian Church in Ireland’s (PCI), residential care home in Londonderry.
In May of last year PCI’s Council for Social Witness, which has overall management responsibility for the Church’s residential care homes and its other services, announced that Ard Cluan in Londonderry and York House in Portrush would relocate to a new refurbished home in Garvagh – recently renamed as Trinity House to symbolically reflect the coming together of three homes into one, while marking it with a clear Christian identity. The move takes place later this month.
Speaking after the service, which was attended by over 100 former staff, current residents, family members and friends of Ard Cluan, Lindsay Conway, Secretary to the Council said: “As Christians we are called to be a reflection of God’s love for people, so the care of our older citizens will always be an important ministry for our Church. For over 40 years this love has been clearly reflected in Ard Cluan.
“Today is a time of celebration as we acknowledge its work, witness and legacy, but also a time of sadness; as a special era comes to an end.
While we give thanks for the special care that our dedicated staff have given to hundreds of older people down the years at Ard Cluan, along with its support group and Friends of Ard Cluan, we would also ask for the prayers of the Church as we move to Trinity House.”
Rev Mark Russell, Moderator of the Presbytery of Derry and Donegal welcomed everyone to the service, while Presbytery Clerk Rev Dr Robert Buick, gave a short history of Ard Cluan.
Prayers were said by a relative of one of the residents, a staff member and Lindsay Conway between familiar hymns which included ‘The Lord’s my Shepherd’, ‘All things bright and beautiful’ and ‘What a friend we have in Jesus.’
Rev Dr David Latimer TD, minister of First Derry Presbyterian Church and chair of the Local Support Committee, who gave the epilogue at the end of the service said: “Ard Cluan has always been in the premier league of care homes and since 1971 a steady stream of residents have experienced a genuinely impressive home-from-home environment down the years, largely due to the lovely Christian care provided by many dedicated staff.
“It is important to remember that God never closes a door without opening another and today we want to honour, acknowledge and celebrate the work and witness of our Presbyterian denomination in this City.
“None of us has to fear what lies ahead because as God’s word infers to us, ‘along unfamiliar paths I will guide them, I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. I will not forsake them’. ”
Leading the service, Rev. Mark Russell said, “As a Presbytery we come to give thanks to God for those who had a vision to provide the home for us to use and to thank God for the staff who have served faithfully in the care of those who were resident for the past 46 years.
“We also come today to acknowledge any anxiety and apprehension that those who will make the move may face and to remind ourselves that we worship a sovereign and gracious God, who promises to be our refuge and our strength, reminded that there is nowhere we can go where His presence is not already there.”
With the opening of Trinity House PCI’s overall residential care for older people in the northwest will increase, with the creation of 50 en suite rooms in a single storey building, 16 of which will be available for people living with dementia.
The new home will also have a dementia-friendly sensory garden, the third of PCI’s residential care homes to have one.