Jillian and Sinead centre stage at Longford parade '18

Longford St Patrick's Day Parade, Saturday, March 17

Jillian and Sinead centre stage at Longford parade '18

Peter Dolan, Fulton Grant, Stacey Farrell, Pat Claffey, Fintan McGill, Niamh Donlon and Sharan Devlin. Photo: Michelle Ghee.

Longford Chamber of Commerce have confirmed that Cystic Fibrosis campaigner will be the grand marshal at this year's parade which goes ahead as per tradition at 1pm on March 17.

The recognition for the young Co Longford woman follows her heroic campaign to secure access for CF sufferers to the groundbreaking new drug, Orkambi.

Despite illness Jillian have never shied away from the limelight and has been a tireless patient advocate and only recently organised a hugely successful fundraising ball for CF Ireland literally from her hospital bed. It is the latest well deserved recognition for the popular woman who was named Longford Person of the Year towards the end of 2017.

There is also a new MC this year and that honour goes to Longford town native and RTE journalist, Sinead Hussey. Currently on maternity leave from RTE following the birth of her beautiful daughter, Aoibhin, Sinead never misses a chance to wear the Longford jersey and is a great champion of Longford causes and event.

For the honour of singing Amhrán na bhfiann, the organisers are delighted to be able to announce that it will be delivered with gusto on Ballymahon St this year by a wonderful young singer from Longford, Alex Sheridan. A student at St Mel's College, his role compliments the theme of this year's parade perfectly: 'Oige Longfoirt - Ár dtodhchaí' - 'Longford's Youth is our future.'

The parade will get underway at 1pm sharp and will be finished in time for the what we are opening will be the epic final match in the Six Nations Series, England v Ireland from Twickenham at 2.45pm. Meanwhile Chamber President, NIamh Donlon, said there has been a large number of entries whilst encouraging local community and sporting groups to get involved this year also. She said at the recent launch: "It is a great opportunity to showcase your group or club and it is also a very enjoyable experience."

The President also went on to pay tribute to Martina Glennon from Optimum Events, the local events management company, who are back on board as organisers for this year's event. Said Niamh Donlon: "It is very much a collective effort and it is all about showcasing the very best that Longford has to offer."

This year's parade will also welcome the return of our twinning friends from Noyal Chattilon Sur Seiche in France and they will feature prominently in the annual celebration.

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