National Thank You Day: Young neighbour’s generosity goes down a treat

The day of thanks was organised as a ‘moment of national reflection’

 Marian Roche presents a thank you poster to neighbour and good friend AJ Doherty (9), watched by his parents, Muriel and Aaron, and grandparents in Fermoy, Co Cork. Photograph:  Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision

Marian Roche presents a thank you poster to neighbour and good friend AJ Doherty (9), watched by his parents, Muriel and Aaron, and grandparents in Fermoy, Co Cork. Photograph: Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision

 

While the last year has not been easy for Fermoy, Co Cork, resident Marian Roche, it has been made a little sweeter by the generosity of her nine-year-old neighbour AJ Doherty, a keen baker.

Every so often Ms Roche hears a knock at her door and goes out to find a container of freshly baked treats left on her welcome mat by AJ.

The Covid-19 lockdown – and the cakes and biscuits – have brought the neighbours closer together, Ms Roche said. “AJ is bright, bubbly, and very polite. It is really lovely to have him as a neighbour.”

On Sunday she presented AJ with a special thank you poster to show her appreciation for his kindness and generosity.“It is important to say thank you all the time, but I suppose it is more important than ever now.”

Ms Roche extended her gratitude on what was Ireland’s first “National Thank You Day”, organised by social entrepreneur and Fermoy native Graham Clifford as a “moment of national reflection”.

It is now a year since the first Covid-19 case was confirmed in Ireland and people were encouraged to say a virtual thank you those who have helped them during the pandemic.

Frontline workers

Using the hashtag “#Thanksamillion”, many paid tribute to frontline workers, while some public servants, such as Fermoy gardaí, thanked the public for adhering to public health restrictions.

Expressing gratitude is an acknowledgement that “absolutely no one can make it through these difficult times without the help and kindness of others”, Mr Clifford said.

The initiative was endorsed by President Michael D Higgins, who said he hoped the day would see many reflect on who has “eased their journey through this worrying time”.

Taking a short break from his baking, AJ said that he and Ms Roche sometimes chat to each other over the hedge about the weather or their day. He sometimes kicks his ball over the wall by accident and Ms Roche always returns it before long, he said.

‘Knock-knock jokes’

“She is a good neighbour and she is always nice to us. She always has a smile and she makes me laugh because she tells me knock-knock jokes,” AJ said, adding that he was “happy and surprised” when Ms Roche chose to thank him.

AJ and his mother, Muriel, were on Sunday baking a cake, shortbread biscuits, meringues and cookies, he said.

Small acts of kindness are “very important” during the pandemic, he added.

“It is definitely important to be kind… My neighbours say my baking is tasty and it makes them really happy.”