Fresh off the back of an amazing victory that saw Connacht win in Thomond Park for the first time in 29 years, Ronan Loughney has made history again by becoming the first professional sportsman to win a Volunteer Ireland Award.
The awards were presented at a special ceremony in Dublin last week and the Connacht star was presented with the accolade in the Arts, Culture and Media category for his work with the Blue Teapot Theatre Company. Blue Teapot is a multi-award winning theatre company, performing arts school and outreach programme for people with intellectual disabilities.
Mr Loughney is the head volunteer with the Bright Soul programme at the theatre which is a creative outlet for adults with moderate intellectual disabilities. His passion for encouraging participants to express themselves has a huge impact on their wellbeing. Ronan’s rugby background is key as it helps him to deal with any challenging behaviour, providing the care required to overcome any difficulties.
Blue Teapot Creative Director Petal Pilley paid tribute to the rugby star who has been volunteering with the theatre company for the past 11 years. “He has given endless time and support to our programmes and performances and without his presence many of our events would suffer – we are so proud that he has won the Volunteer Ireland Award because he truly deserves it. Volunteers are diamonds to any organisation, long serving volunteers are rare gems indeed.”
As tighthead prop, Ronan is one of the most valued members of any rugby team and Danielle McDonnell, who nominated Ronan, feels he has the same impact on Blue Teapot. “Ronan’s professional career involves travel throughout Europe and as a result of the sport he has sustained injuries, yet he rarely misses a workshop or event. He happily pledges himself to Bright Soul and their weekly sessions. He offers many hours of physical work, production assistance and in-kind gifts outside of his main role. Without his contribution, staff would be unable to dedicate as much valuable time to maintain the high quality work expected of Blue Teapot.”