Volunteer spirit and action feted at Laois Community Community and Voluntary awards

Pat Somers


Pat Somers

The Laois Community & Voluntary Awards celebrated their tenth anniversary in gala style at the Midlands Park Hotel.

Hosted by Laois County Council in association with the Laois Public Participation Network, the awards were sponsored by People First Credit Union.

The Leinster Express was media partner for the Gala event on Friday, October 18 which marked the 10th anniversary of the awards.

As the title suggested, Community and Voluntary endeavours was the overriding theme of the evening with a total of 61 nominees across six categories, which also comprised the Unsung Hero category, which featured 23 individuals.

The evening commenced with a drinks reception to the musical accompanient of Music Generation Laois. The formalities got underway and were steered by the MC for the evening, Claire Byrne.

A touching slideshow tribute to the late Mick Dowling was given by Trudi Earls.

The work and importance of volunteers was highlighted in a series of speeches at the outset.

The Minister for Justice, Charlie Flanagan invoked the meitheal ethos, saying that the “giving of your time for the benefit of others is the lifeblood of communities.”

Laois County Council CEO, John Mulholland noted the challenge the Council faced in its annual budget in trying to divide up funds across a number of areas.

Other speakers on the evening included Cathaoirleach Willie Aird, Paddy Buggy, Laois PPN and Kieran Brosnan of People First Credit Union.

The winner in each category was announced following the three-course meal.

In the Arts, Culture and Heritage section, Mountmellick Embroidery Museum committee received first prize, with Yarn Bombing Mountmellick in the runner up spot.

Laochra Laois Special Olympics Sports Club took top spot in the Healthy & Active Community category, with the Laois Defibrilator Group in runner-up position.

Mountrath Scout Group were the winners in the Children & Youth section, with Portlaoise LGFA in second position.

The Environment category saw the People's Park Campus Management Committee in Portarlington emerge as winner, with the Cottage Market Sub Committee of Mountrath Community Forum taking second.

Down Syndrome Ireland 'Laois Branch' took the number one spot in the Social Inclusion category while Vicarstown Youth Club were second.

In the Age Friendly section, Borris In Ossory Social Services was the winner, with Portlaoise Active Retirement taking runner up.

The Unsung Hero winner was Donal O'Shea.

Donal is PRO of the Stradbally Residents Electric Picnic committee, and is the Stradbally representative on the Stradbally Vicarstown Timahoe Activity and Wellness Hub.

He is also the chairperson of the Stradbally Community Development Association, and is a social inclusion representative on the Laois PPN Secretariat.

“Its nice to get an award but for me it's not about that, it's the causes and the people that motivates me,” said Donal.

Following the presentation, live music was provided by Transmitter.

Photographer Michael Scully covered the awards - scroll through gallery above to see pictures of all the award winners.