Christmas FM is about more than carols
The festive-themed radio station has raised €500,000 for charity since it began seven years ago
Tucked away in a corner of the Ballsbridge Hotel in Dublin, an avid band of merry broadcasters is hard at work filling Ireland’s airwaves with yuletide cheer.
Love it or loathe it, Christmas FM has become one of the most popular phenomenons in recent radio history.
The station, which only broadcasts for 30 days every Christmas, doesn’t just provide a festive fix of tunes.
Each year, the DJs, producers and assorted behind-the-scenes men and women raise funds for charities.
“Four of us got together in 2008 and we decided to set up a radio station for a bit of fun. Then we decided, ‘let’s do it for charity’,” says co-founder Garvan Rigby.
“I thought the fit was great, particularly with the Christmas message and some of the challenges that winter presents for older people,” says Timmins.
“It’s not just about raising money, it’s about raising awareness. While some of the issues can be fixed by money, a lot of issues affecting the elderly have to be fixed by people changing attitudes and becoming more thoughtful and more considerate,” he adds.
Along with huge public support, Age Action have called on the services of presenter Síle Seoige and comedian Al Porter to drive the pledges.
Even Dustin the Turkey braved the Christmas crowds to make an appearance for last week’s 12-hour Donation Day, which raised €55,000.
Interspersed between Christmas carols and other seasonal favourites were some anecdotes of older people who’ve felt the benefits of Age Action.
The story of elderly couple Eileen and Paddy encapsulated the mood well. Their advanced age meant they couldn’t reach their Christmas decorations in the attic to put up a tree.
However, one call later, Age Action volunteers mobilised, going to their home and retrieving the decorations before putting up the tree.
Perhaps even more importantly, Eileen and Paddy revelled in the opportunity to chat, regaling their visitors with tales of Christmases past and good times spent with family and friends.
Given that one-eighth of Ireland’s population is now aged over 65, and a third of that number struggles with chronic illnesses, donations of both time and money are always appreciated to make life that bit more jolly for society’s senior members this Christmas.