The work done by Cervical Check campaigner Vicky Phelan has been hailed by University of Limerick President Dr Des Fitzgerald as “public service at its highest” that has saved many lives.
Dr Fitzgerald was speaking at the launch of the Limerick woman’s already best-selling memoir Overcoming, which took place in the East Room of Plassey House at UL on Tuesday night.
A large crowd of family, friends and former colleagues of the on university alumna and former employee – and honorary doctorate holder – turned out to celebrate the book’s launch.
The UL President told Vicky that she has “the admiration of a nation and the thanks of many who you may never meet, whose lives you have saved.
“Everyone in this room and beyond is keenly aware of the efforts that you continue to make on behalf of others and this book will tell so much more of that story,” Dr Fitzgerald said.
“Last year, you honoured us in accepting the Honorary Doctorate and again we are honoured to have you here tonight to launch your book.
“As a campaigner, you have stood up for your community. As a person suffering from cancer, you have shown huge integrity and bravery. Your story has inspired many and continues to inspire today.
“Your inclusion in the honour role of this university will remain an indelible reminder to our students, past and present of what one person can achieve,” he added.
Ms Phelan said it was a “wonderful book launch” and thanked the President and “all at UL” for hosting it.
Professor Sarah Moore of UL, who launched the book, said Vicky had held “the system and decision makers within it to account for what happened to her and for what was concealed from her and from many other women in this country. These women could have been any of us, a fact that I think about all the time.
“Writing a book is a difficult thing. Anyone who has written one will tell you that it’s often the title that is the most difficult part of all. In fact, when I first heard Vicky had started work on the story of her life so far, that’s one of the things I remember thinking: what on earth is she going to call it?
“Vicky’s life has been filled with so many things: trauma, hardship, and adversity on the one hand, but also light and life and love on the other. I wondered how she would capture it all in a single title. I thought that choosing a name for her book would be an impossible challenge in itself.
“But, as we all know, Vicky Phelan is no stranger to impossible challenges. She is a woman who rises to such tests with responses that are close to perfection.
“And so it is with the title of her wonderful book. Overcoming.
“This book shows with page-turning elegance how Vicky has achieved and experienced more so far in her forty something years than many people achieve in a lifetime.
“For this and for much more, we owe a debt of gratitude to Dr Vicky Phelan, and to her beloved husband Jim and her children Amelia and Darragh who have walked this journey beside her.
“We owe thanks to her directness, her humility, her stoicism, her clear-eyed, decent, good-hearted honesty; her capacity to see things for what they are and to call them out.
“Here’s to you Vicky for this extraordinary book, for all you have overcome. Here’s to you for helping others to overcome too. Here’s to many years of overcoming up ahead.”