Raffle Winners 2021

Raffle winners announced banner

The Annual Croí Golden Ticket Raffle results were announced on Monday, December 20th. The draw took place in Croí House, with a total prize fund of €5,000.


Raffle Winners Announced! Huge congratulations to our winners:

1st prize, €2,000 – winner is Catherine (Kathleen) Joyce, Galway
2nd prize, €1,000 – winner is Joe McKenna, Moycullen
3rd prize, €500 – winner is Olive Fair, Castlebar
4th prize, €250 – winner is Lisa Lovera, Galway
5th prize, €250 – winner is George Ryder, Galway
6th – 15th prize, €100 – winners are: Joe Cunningham, Lackagh; Áine Lyons, Louisburgh; Peter Corley, Galway; Freddy McManamon Hayes, Westport; Suzanne Coombs, Moycullen; Liam Devlin, Ballina; Anna Lopatka, Ballygar; Ray McManus, Galway; Gerard Farrell, Galway; Fionn McGowan, Letrim.

Seller’s prizes, winning a €500 Corrib Oil voucher: Thomas Mahady, Ballina; Ann Smyth, Foxford; Mary O’Dea, Clarinbridge.

Thank you to everyone who purchased or sold tickets. We are overwhelmed by the incredible support shown by our loyal supporters after what was our most challenging year in fundraising. A big thanks also to our sponsors Coen Steel and Corrib Oil for their generous support of the prizes.

A Christmas message from Croí CEO, Neil Johnson

Dear friends,


As we come to the close of another year, I wish to could convey our heartfelt thanks to all those who supported us this year.

Neil Johnson – Chief Executive

Like all organisations, especially in the non-profit sector, 2021 was another difficult year. Since the beginning of the pandemic, both those in need of healthcare and those providing it have been faced with huge challenges. In our work, we see at first hand the impact of COVID-19 on those living with or affected by heart disease and stroke. Not only are these conditions difficult in their own right but add the stress and worry of delayed access to care, postponed or cancelled appointments and procedures, growing waiting lists or the fear of contracting COVID-19 and you realise how important it is to be able to provide support to those who are feeling unwell and vulnerable.

Over the past year, Croí provided a lifeline to 80-100 callers a week to our HeartLink West support service which is led by our Cardiovascular Nurse Specialist and supported by our multi-disciplinary health team. This is a support, sign posting and education service which we launched when COVID-19 first struck in 2020 and we were delighted that this initiative was recognised nationally last month by winning an Irish Healthcare Award as the Best Patient Organisation Project of the Year. In the early part of this year, due to the continued shutdown of our heart and stroke centre in Newcastle, Galway, we launched a range of online recovery and risk factor management programmes which allowed us engage with hundreds of individuals throughout the west of Ireland. Last month for example we completed a very successful online lifestyle change programme called ‘Farmers on the Move’ working with the farming community in Mayo and Roscommon and we also completed a very successful face to face public blood pressure screening programme as part of our Mayo Third Age Programme in a unique collaboration with Pharmacies throughout the county. Through these opportunistic blood pressure checks, we discovered that over half of those who participated had high to very high blood pressure, a known risk factor for a heart attack or a stroke. These individuals are now on a pathway to better blood pressure control.

In November, we began a phased reopening of the Croí Heart and Stroke Centre to several hundred people where we recommenced targeted exercise and wellness classes delivered under guidelines restricted capacity. Recognising that it has been an extremely difficult time for everyone impacted by heart disease, stroke, diabetes and obesity, we reshaped our exercise programmes to focus on those most in need of support following the impact of the pandemic, something we are now calling our ‘wellness revival’ programme. Sadly, we have seen that some of the unintended consequences of the public health messaging to ‘stay at home’, has been increased physical inactivity, increased weight gain, poor dietary and sleeping behaviour and an increased prevalence of low mood and anxiety – all, individually and collectively, known risk factors for heart attack and stroke. With the easing of restrictions in recent months we were delighted to welcome back to our Croí Courtyard Apartments the families and loved ones of those receiving emergency cardiac and stroke care at GUH. These apartments offer a home from home at a time of crisis and strain when relatives need to be near their loved ones in hospital.

Despite the economic and financial burdens imposed by the pandemic on so many, we are inspired and heartened by all those who continued to contribute financially to our work throughout this difficult year. We are so grateful to everyone who got involved with our virtual fundraising events, from the Couch to the Wild Atlantic Way, to the Croí Cycle and the ever-growing Croí Night Run. As we rely totally on our own capacity to generate the funds necessary to do our work, we never take the support we receive for granted. We owe a deep debt of gratitude to all our donors, volunteers, corporate and business supporters who continue to give so freely year on year. We are also very fortunate to have an extremely dedicated and committed staff, voluntary board of directors and a large team of tireless volunteers.

It’s appropriate therefore to convey our sincere thanks to all and to wish everyone a very happy, healthy and safe Christmas.


Yours sincerely,

Neil Johnson
CEO, Croí

Top tips for Mindful Eating this Christmas

While Christmas is an enjoyable time, there’s no doubt that food is a central component. This can make it a challenging time if you struggle around food or have a difficult relationship with foods. Learning to eat more mindfully and intuitively can help you feel more in control around food, feel less guilt about food choices and is a valuable skill to practice throughout the year, not just at Christmas. Learning to eat mindfully takes time, however, here are our top tips for getting started:

  1. Eat foods that make you feel good – physically and mentally. For some people, this could be a creamy hot chocolate while watching your favourite Christmas movie or a mince pie with a friend. These foods might nourish our mind and our mood. Other times you might crave a piece of fruit, an extra helping of veg with your dinner or an alcohol-free day because you feel like your body is craving this. There are no ‘good or bad’ foods, just food. Same as we are not ‘good or bad’ depending on the foods we eat. Removing feelings of shame or guilt around food gives us so much more freedom and ultimately, we are more likely to choose a balanced diet.
  2. Check in with your hunger and fullness signals. Sometimes we can become out of touch with our hunger and fullness signals and not trust ourselves to know when we are hungry or full. This can often be a result of years of dieting, following restrictive meal plans and being told exactly what and when to eat. No wonder we can be scared to trust ourselves. However, we can learn to connect with these signals again. You can do this by regularly using the hunger scale (right). Ideally you would like to be around a 4 before a meal and 6 after a meal. Look out for hunger signals like stomach grumbling, constant thoughts about food, low energy levels, feeling faint or irritable. It’s also important to check in with your fullness signals, particularly at Christmas when we tend to be surrounded by endless supplies of food. We can override the feeling of fullness and intentionally eat more, sometimes to the point of feeling uncomfortably full. Check in with yourself while you are eating and if you’re starting to feel satisfied, stop. You an always come back and finish the meal later if you are still hungry.
  3. Check in with your mood. If you are craving something to eat, but you don’t actually feel hungry, check to see if this is more of an emotional hunger rather than a physical hunger. Often, we crave certain foods in response to emotions such as stress, boredom, loneliness, tiredness etc. Ask yourself ‘What emotion am I feeding?’. Over time this helps us to separate physical and emotional hunger and can help us to learn other ways of coping with our emotions. Some things that can help would be to include some gentle movement of exercise, getting stuck into your favourite hobby or taking 10 minutes to practice some mindfulness.
  4. Ditch the weighing scales. Your value is not measured by a number on the scales. Your health cannot be measured by a number on the scales. If, like a lot of people I work with, you find the scales can affect your mood and your behaviours then get rid of it. Focus on measuring your progress in other ways – are you noticing an improvement in your mood, energy levels, sleep, fitness? Do you feel like you are developing a better routine and healthier habits? Have you noticed improvements in your blood pressure, cholesterol or diabetes control? These are the ways you should measure your progress, not by a number on a weighing scales.
  5. Don’t plan to start a diet in January. You may be familiar with the cycle – restrict in November, go all out in December, and then come January 1st clear out the cupboards and go cold turkey. Only to eventually fall back into old habits after a few weeks. This approach doesn’t work long term. Finding a way of eating and exercising that is sustainable, that doesn’t restrict foods and doesn’t make us feel guilty or ashamed when we inevitably go ‘off plan’ is a much healthier and more effective approach. Why not try set goals that are realistic and achievable? For example, aim to start eating 3 meals per day and not skipping lunch, try to get one less takeaway per week and aim to go for at least 3 half hour walks each week. These are much more realistic goals than ones like saying you will cut out all sweets, chocolate, takeaways, cook all meals from scratch and exercise every day for the next year. Don’t set yourself up to fail.

Written by Aisling Harris, Croí Cardiac
and Weight Management Dietitian 

Warm-Up this Winter with Heart Healthy Porridge

Warm-up this Winter with a bowl of porridge and delicious toppings!

Did you know that porridge has been shown to help reduce cholesterol and blood pressure? It’s also packed with fibre, vitamins and minerals – making it a perfect, heart healthy breakfast.

Watch the video below where Croí Dietitian, Aisling, shares her favourite porridge toppings.

Croí’s 2020 Annual Report highlights huge impact across the West

Croí, the heart and stroke charity, has released its 2020 Annual Report, which details its response to the pandemic and the launch of new, award-winning programmes for people living with, or affected by, heart disease and stroke.

“2020 was unquestionably a very challenging year, not only for our organisation, but for our community and those living with or affected by heart disease and stroke. The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted our lives in ways we didn’t think imaginable, but we are proud to say that Croí stepped up to the challenge and provided support as best we could to the people we serve,” says Neil Johnson, Chief Executive, Croí.

Although the Croí Heart and Stroke Centre was forced to close to the public in early March 2020, Croí offered their Centre to the HSE, who used it as a regional Contact Tracing Centre. The Croí Team adjusted to remote working and developed first-in-Ireland virtual programmes to support people living with heart disease and stroke.

Croí was to the forefront in responding to the needs of patients and carers, who were severely impacted by the pandemic through decreased access to health services, delayed or postponed appointments and procedures, leading to increased levels of anxiety, stress and worry. Croí’s Heartlink West free telephone support line became a vital lifeline for people all across the country, with 80 – 100 calls each week to Croí’s Cardiovascular Nurse Specialist.

“This report illustrates that despite COVID-19, our staff responded to all the challenges; pivoted to online and hybrid health programme delivery, and innovated in digital revenue generation, to allow us achieve our mission of supporting those most in need. As we are funded entirely through our own revenue generation activities, we could not do this important work without the very generous support of our donors, sponsors and volunteers, and for this we are deeply indebted,” says Johnson.

Read the report now on the Croí website, www.croi.ie/annualreport

Heartlink West

Call: 091 544310

Or email: healthteam@croi.ie

Croí’s FREE telephone helpline, Heartlink West, is available for those living with, or affected by, heart disease and stroke. When you call, you will be connected with one of our Cardiac Nurse Specialists or you can join one of our weekly virtual health chats!

Heartlink West is available weekdays from 9 am – 5:30 pm on 091 544310 or by email at healthteam@croi.ie.

Heartlink West Virtual Chats

Join our free Heartlink West virtual chats, taking place via Zoom.

  • Thursday, July 7th, from 11 am – 12 pm: Strength and Resistance Exercise Register
  • Thursday, July 14th, from 11 am – 12 pm: Eating for a Healthy Heart Register

Zoom Training

Make the most of Croí’s online resources with our Zoom Training, taking place every Wednesday at 12 pm sharp, with Bridget Cheasty, Croí’s Health Team Administrator.

By learning how to use Zoom, you can access Croí resources such as:

Sign-Up to Receive the Latest News and Events from the Croí Health Team

Croí Connects

Croí Connects is an online series, where Croí will connect with medical experts for a questions and answers session to help answer your questions on heart disease, stroke, COVID-19 and lots more.


Jump to section:

Heart Conditions:


Have you or a loved one survived a stroke? Join Croí’s Stroke Support Groups online each month.

  • The Croí Galway Stroke Support Group meets virtually via Zoom on the second Thursday of every month at 2:00pm.
  • The Croí Mayo Stroke Support Group meets virtually via Zoom on the last Thursday of every month at 11.30am.

If you want to join and have not used Zoom before, Croí can help. Call us on 091 544310 or email healthteam@croi.ie to receive meeting details and technical support.

Risk factors you can change:

Risk Factors you cannot change:

Healthy Eating:

Home Workouts:

Mental Health & Wellbeing:

Booklet Resources:

Click to download

An initiative by Croí, endorsed by Cardiology Services, HSE Saolta University Healthcare Group.

To date, this initiative has been made possible thanks to the very generous support of the following: