Winners of County Monaghan Volunteer Awards 2020 Announced
Monaghan Volunteer Centre have announced the winners of the annual County Monaghan Volunteer Award winners. The Volunteer Centre, part of Monaghan Integrated Development, has been running the awards since 2007. The format of the awards has changed significantly this year, with no large presentation ceremony possible. However, the hard work and dedication of the volunteers and the impact they have on their communities is as impressive as ever.
This year the Monaghan Volunteer Centre staff met with the winners of each category individually to present their prizes. Category winners received a perpetual trophy, a plaque and a prize to the value of €400 for their voluntary organisation. Runners up this year received certificates and gift vouchers for €20. Monaghan Volunteer Centre coordinator Sinéad Keenan said, “We were very pleased with the increased number of nominations this year. It was more difficult than ever for the judges to choose winners from so many fantastic volunteers. This year volunteers have done vital work during the covid-19 pandemic, as well as continuing other important volunteering.”
Volunteer of the Year
The Volunteer of the Year award went to Lisa McGlade from Glaslough. Lisa was nominated by Monaghan Special Olympics Club, where she has been a dedicated volunteer for the past seven years. In normal times, Lisa volunteers at training and competitions, helping and encouraging the athletes to take part in sport, traveling with them to events and undertaking a variety of training for her role. She has taken on the responsibility of being the club secretary and was generous enough to donate her 30th birthday presents to the club.
During covid-19 Lisa has found ways to keep the athletes connected. She encourages them to send her photos and videos of their activities and she uploads them to the club social media. Many of the athletes love seeing themselves and their friends on social media. She also hosts online catch-ups for the athletes to keep in touch. During lockdown, she brought a birthday cake to an athlete, left it at his door, sang “Happy Birthday” from a distance and took his photo for the club Facebook page. Lisa also volunteers with a number of other local organisations, including Monaghan Arch Club, SNAP and Errigal Truagh Special Needs.
The person who nominated Lisa described her as “enthusiastic, energetic and inspirational” and “a joy to work with”. Her award is well deserved and will no doubt delight everyone she helps though her volunteering.
Volunteer Group of the Year
The Volunteer Group of the Year award went to Castleblayney Community First Responders. This group was founded five years ago. They work closely with the National Ambulance Service, which dispatches the highly trained volunteers to provide CPR and other care for people suffering medical emergencies until an ambulance can reach them. They have saved several lives and provided care and support for many people while they wait for an ambulance. As well as emergency call outs and training, lots of work also goes into fundraising, maintaining equipment, recruiting and training new members and making sure they are ready to respond 24/7. Castleblayney Community First Responders were the first group of their kind in Co. Monaghan and are a great asset to their community.
Castleblayney Community First Responders welcomes new volunteers. They can either train for the role of first responder or join the committee to help with other important tasks such as fundraising and administration. Potential volunteers can contact them through Monaghan Volunteer Centre.
Lifetime Achievement Award
The Lifetime Achievement Award is to recognise someone who’s volunteering spans many years. This year it went to Malachy Marron from Carrickmacross. Malachy’s lifetime of volunteering has focused on providing services for people with disabilities. Back in 1965 he was a founder member of the Association of Parents and Friends in Carrrickmacross. This committee identified a need for education for children with learning disabilities and set up a temporary school on a voluntary basis. Their work contributed to the establishment of the Holy Family School in Cootehill in 1973, named after the Holy Family Hall in Carrickmacross where the temporary school was originally based.
Malachy and the rest of the Association of Parents and Friends continued to support people with disabilities and their families in many ways. This included the foundation of Steadfast House and the provision of day services and residential services for people with disabilities. Malachy was appointed to the paid position of manager of Steadfast House but continued to volunteer in his spare time.
Since 2011 Malachy has been a voluntary board member of Monaghan Supported Employment CLG, which helps people with disabilities find suitable jobs and supports them while they get started in their new roles. They describe him as going “above and beyond” for them. Since his retirement as manager of Steadfast House in 2019 Malachy has also joined its board. On top of these responsibilities, he also cleans his local church.
The runners up in the awards have also done some incredible work. They range from primary school age right up to retired people, from all kinds of backgrounds. Some have been volunteering for many years, other have come to volunteering this year to help with the covid-19 crisis.
Lifetime Achievement Runners Up
Sheila Comiskey – for her work in setting up Castlelblayney Care and establishing a variety of services for people with disabilities.
Helena Sheridan – for her great contribution to the Oakland Community Centre in Glaslough.
Volunteer Group Runners Up
Glaslough Development Association were nominated for their work in running the Oakland Community Centre and a variety of events and activities.
Castleblayney Scouts teach young people vital skills like teamwork, community involvement, care for the environment and respect for others, as well as giving them a chance to enjoy a range of activities.
Unique Special Needs was set up by parents in the Clones area to provide support, activities and events for children with special or additional needs.
Emyvale Tidy Towns Committee keep their village looking great and are involved in wildlife conservation.
Volunteer of the Year Runners Up
Monaghan Integrated Development Meals on Wheels Volunteers – Jim Hand, Siobhan Lambe, Greg Hourigan, Gerry Finnegan and Paddy McPhillips. These volunteers were jointly nominated for their dedication to delivering meals on wheels to some very vulnerable older people living alone in rural areas outside Carrickmacross and Castleblayney.
Kieran Ashmore, unit officer with the Irish Red Cross in Castleblayney. During covid-19 Kieran has delivered supplies for food banks and transported patients to hospitals.
Geraldine Smyth volunteers with Befriending Monaghan and was nominated by the woman she visits who says she reduces her isolation and has “excellent understanding and a warm personality”.
Mary Byrne runs Castleblayney News Facebook page on a voluntary basis, keeping her community well informed, promoting local businesses and providing tourist information.
Laura Hannon volunteers with Friends of Rossmore Park, Transition Monaghan and is an active member of Monaghan Against Racism and campaigns for social inclusion.
Finn Curley, our youngest nominee took on a virtual “Malin to Mizen” cycling challenge to raise funds for the Peter McVerry Trust. €1,570 raised before he turned ten!
Paddy McPhillips of the MID Meals on Wheels Volunteers also received an individual nomination.
Abel Ayodeji was nominated for his work to support and represent members of Monaghan’s new communities.
Damien Kierns, nominated for his dedicated volunteering with Cu Chulainn Blood Bikes, he is willing to help day or night.
Thank You Volunteers!
This week (21st to 27th September) is National Volunteering Week, the perfect time to say thanks to all volunteers. The award winners and runners up are just a small selection of the thousands of volunteers across Co. Monaghan. Monaghan Volunteer Centre would like to say, “Thank you and well done” to everyone who volunteers.