Autism campaigner Edel Shaw from Portarlington was pipped at the post in the Calor Ireland Community Champion awards, announced last Monday September 3.
Edel, the secretary of Laois and Offaly Families for Autism (LOFFA) had made it into the top four national finalists in the online voting competition, thanks to the strong support from the LOFFA and Portarlington communities, who gave her over 3,500 votes.
“It was fantastic to get local support from Portarlington and from the whole county,” she told the Leinster Express.
The title of champion came with a prize of €7,500 for a chosen charity, plus a personal award of €1,500, and was awarded to Donegal Scout leader Joe Boland.
“It is gone to a great cause, and it was very fairly done,” said Edel.
Though the Calor website said interviews with the six finalists would be conducted by a panel including Michael O’Muircheartaigh and Hector O’Heochagain, Edel said judges made their decisions based on the initial submission. She was never officially contacted by Calor Ireland, with all information coming through the company’s facebook page.
“It was bizarre, I heard nothing until a friend phoned me, that’s how I found out I didn’t win. But it was a bit of crack, and it also raised a lot of awareness about autism, which is good. It was great to see such community spirit,” she said, thanking all who supported her campaign.