Children’s charity makes appeal for funds to keep it moving forward

BUMBLEance was set up by Tony and Mary Heffernan, whose children Saoirse and Liam both died from Batten disease

Noah Quish using BUMBLEance.

Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, many charities have had to turn to unusual and innovative ways to raise much-needed funds for their services.

BUMBLEance are no different. The children’s ambulance service provides safe and comfortable transportation for Ireland’s youngest patients as they travel between their homes and hospitals, hospices, treatment centres and respite centres nationwide. BUMBLEance also provides an Angel Trip service, for children in palliative care who are making their final journey home.

The service was set up by Tony and Mary Heffernan, whose children Saoirse and Liam both died from Batten disease in 2011 and 2014 respectively when they just were five years old.

Tony and Mary Heffernan. Photograph: Brian Lougheed

Over the May Bank Holiday, coinciding with the 6th anniversary of Liam's passing, BUMBLEance asked people to help by "staying home, staying safe and having a BBQ for BUMBLEance". Whether or not you were eating burgers, hot dogs or chicken wings in the garden at the weekend, you can still support this initiative by texting BUZZ to 50300, which will donate €4 (BUMBLEance receive a minimum of €3.60). You can also donate via website's donation –


With all the amenities of a regular ambulance, a BUMBLEance also includes the all-important extras – such as toys, games consoles and DVDs to make a sick child’s journey as safe, comforting and entertaining as possible.

There have been over 11,000 trips nationwide since BUMBLEance’s inception and there are hundreds of families availing of the charity’s services – all of which are free. As non-emergency procedures are cancelled, they are predominately helping children who are still going through chemotherapy or having infusions. But although BUMBLEance continues to work tirelessly during the Covid19 pandemic, their fundraising efforts have been seriously hit as events have been cancelled due to the restrictions.

Liam and Saoirse.

The service is reliant on volunteer drivers who kindly give up their time to help the children. They're planning to launch a volunteer driver program very soon, following the successful ad hoc launch of their midwest service three weeks ago with a volunteer driver, Liam Mulcahy. "Liam's daughter, Sophie was a BUMBLEance Queen Bee before growing her angel wings", Tony Heffernan explains. "He knows first-hand the vitalness of the service to families."

The charity are also “exceptionally reliant on the goodwill of the general public for their financial support, be this through donations, fundraisers on social media, or across platforms such as iDonate and JustGiving,” says Heffernan.