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This is Your Life’ Production to Mark Retirement of Peter McKevitt in Dundalk

27/04/2015 This is Your Life’ Production to Mark Retirement of Peter McKevitt in Dundalk

To mark his retirement, Peter McKevitt, General Manager of RehabCare in the North East was treated to a ‘This is Your Life’ production by many of the people that he has supported over the last 32 years. Encore Productions, the drama group of people who use the services provided by RehabCare in Dundalk, staged the tribute to the Dundalk native at his retirement party in the Crowne Plaza Hotel last Friday (24thApril). With over 30 years in the organisation, there was plenty of material to showcase the role the Peter played in improving the lives of people with disabilities in the North East.

A huge crowd turned out to pay tribute to Peter and bid him farewell on his retirement. The people who use the services provided by RehabCare, their families, current and past staff members, colleagues from RehabCare and Rehab Group around the country travelled to Dundalk to thank Peter for his hard work over the last three decades. His RehabCare family were joined by his real family, his wife Sheila, two sons Peter and Vincent, daughter in law Donna and granddaughter Katie and Sarah.

Peter grew up in the Quay area of Dundalk. He played football with and was captain and secretary of the Sean O‘Mahony’s GFC and is the proud holder of three County Championship medals. He also played soccer with Bank Rovers FC for over 10 years which won all of the domestic competitions in the Dundalk Summer League. He was educated at the CBS Secondary School and went on to study Industrial Engineering at DKIT. He started his professional career in the former Clarke’s shoe factory before commencing with Rehab in 1983

Peter worked with  Rehab as manager of the newly opened vocational training centre in Dundalk which trained, prepared and supported people with disabilities to find employment.  At that time Rehab provided vocational rehabilitative training and development to individuals through the medium of work. The Dundalk service grew to accommodate 70 people at any one time and soon became one of the largest services within Rehab itself. In 1990 Peter took over the role of regional director covering the North East which encompassed counties Louth, Meath, Monaghan and Cavan. During that period Peter developed a range of new training programmes, all of which quickly spread to all locations throughout the country, and are in operation to this day. Within that time period Peter successfully negotiated European Regional Development Funding to support the building of new modern facilities in each county.

In 1995 The Rehab Group identified the need to develop health and social care services and Peter took up the position of general manager to help develop new RehabCare services including resource centres, supported accommodation, independent living, home help and respite around the country. Peter also developed Newgrove Housing Association which provides accommodation and housing for people with disabilities. In 2003 Peter transferred to the role of general manager for the Midlands and North East of the country covering eight counties.

During the past year Peter took on the role of Head of Change Management for RehabCare, which saw him preparing RehabCare’s services all over the country to embrace the principles of the HSE’s New Directions policy for adult day services. He served on the Boards of the Combat Poverty Agency, Disability Federation of Ireland, The Irish Association for Supported Employment, Rehab Foundation, and Independent Living Community Services. He was appointed Chairperson of the National Disability Authority from 2009 to 2013 which provides policy advice to Government on disability in Ireland.

In partnership with the Health Service Executive, RehabCare today provides a wide range of high-quality services in County Louth with 110 people accessing its two resource centres located at the Quayside Business Park and Carroll Village in Dundalk, an outreach service in Ardee, with a further 60 adults and children receiving supports such as accommodation services in Dundalk and Drogheda, and a respite service in Lordship in partnership with Maria Goretti Foundation. Rehab’s education and training division, National Learning Network, provides training courses funded by both SOLAS and the Heath Service Executive to 59 people in Dundalk who may have suffered a personal setback or who are unable to get back into the labour market due to accident, illness or disability.

Reflecting on his 32 years with Rehab, Peter said “The best thing about the job was being part of a highly committed and dynamic team of people who gave of themselves so selflessly in support of people with disabilities. You were always reminded that you were in a very privileged position in that your work entailed helping and supporting people to create a better life for themselves and this would not have been at all possible without the help, guidance and support of my colleagues, directors and counterparts in state agencies, but most particularly my wife Sheila, sons Peter and Vincent and immediate family.”

Speaking at the retirement event, Laura Keane, Director, Health & Social Care, Rehab Group, said, “Peter McKevitt has contributed enormously throughout his career to the development of services to support people with disabilities in their own communities. He is best known here in the North East but he has also held national roles and influenced national policy; advocating for services where none existed and campaigning for funding for services. He has fundraising tirelessly and has been instrumental in the development of a whole range of day, residential and respite services which support thousands of people and their families every year. He has always put the person to whom we provide the service first, and has been a great advocate for ensuring that people receive a service that truly meets their needs and wishes. He has been a great colleague to all of us in Rehab and we will miss his wisdom, wit and expansive knowledge. We wish Peter and Sheila and the family all the very best for a long and happy retirement”.

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