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Two Westmeath Locals Win National Volunteer Award

Athlone based Kara Richards and Shay Hamilton were named winners in Arts, Culture and Festivals and Environmental and Animal Care categories respectively in this year’s Volunteer Ireland Awards.

“I don’t consider this an award for me, but an award to Athlone Community Radio and all the volunteers, staff and management at the radio who give volunteers an opportunity in a fun and vibrant organisation” said Kara on her award (pictured above). Kara is the Presenter of Music on Athlone Community Radio 88.4FM LiveWires Show, a dedicated arts programme for local and new music in the area. She does all her own research so that she can encourage and promote musically talented people who may not have got the opportunity to be heard on radio, by interviewing them, recording them live, producing the show and then presenting them to the world of radio waves and the media. 

Vol Awards Winner 1
Shay Hamilton, Volunteer Awards Winner

Shay is the Chairman of Athlone Canal Regeneration Group. The group was set up to restore an abandoned canal from being a stagnant unused waterway to an amazing amenity that will rejuvenate the westside of Athlone. Shay and his committee started on a small section and completely transformed it. The section now holds fish, wildfowl and some beautiful flora and fauna. On receiving the award Shay says he is “delighted, but it is really a reflection of the many many good people involved. Volunteering is a great way to meet new people and the commitment volunteers show is a great inspiration to me and every other volunteer”. Shay continued, “I really would also like to thank Volunteer Ireland for this recoognition  of volunteering through the National Volunteer Awards and the continued support we receive from Westmeath Community Development”.

Vol Awards Winner 2

According to Westmeath Community Development CEO, Frank Murtagh “We are lucky to have volunteers like Kara and Shay in Westmeath. Volunteers are often unseen but the contribution they make to Irish society is immense. These awards give us a chance to say thank you and celebrate volunteers for their dedication and commitment.”

Arthur and Deborah Carr were named Christine Buckley Volunteer of the Year for their outstanding commitment to supporting those in crisis in Galway.

Joe O’Brien TD, Minister of State for Community Development and Charities, added “It gives me great pleasure to congratulate all the winners of the Volunteer Ireland 2020 Awards, which are supported by my Department. After what has been a very challenging year for us all, it is all the more important to thank those volunteers who have gone the extra mile to support the most vulnerable in our communities. In addition to the winners, I would also like to thank Volunteer Ireland for their work to support and champion volunteering around the country.”

As a physical event was not possible this year each awardee received a special surprise delivery from Volunteer Ireland announcing their win. It included an engraved trophy, a framed message from President Higgins, complimentary tickets to EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum and of course, a hamper of goodies to celebrate with. All 805 volunteers nominated in this year’s awards also received a special thank you card from Volunteer Ireland earlier this month.

About the Volunteer Ireland Awards

The Volunteer Ireland Awards are now in their thirteenth year and aim to shine a light on the ordinary people doing extraordinary things in our communities every day. Winners were announced in thirteen categories with usually one volunteer – in this case two – being named Christine Buckley Volunteer of the Year. Our overall award is named after dedicated campaigner and previous awardee, Christine Buckley.

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