An editorial from the Galway Advertiser honouring coastguard Caitriona Lucas, who died during a rescue off the west coast last year, has been named as a winner in a global contest to honour the best editorial writing in weekly newspapers.
The Golden Quill and Golden Dozen award winners for 2017 were announced by the International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors at a conference in Washington DC this evening (Sunday ).
One of those chosen as a winner was an editorial written by group editor Declan Varley published in the Galway Advertiser last year. The editorial (reprinted below ) paid tribute to the bravery shown by volunteer coastguard, librarian Caitriona Lucas who lost her life during a search and recovery mission off the Clare coast last September.
The Golden Quill contest is open to all weekly newspapers worldwide with the objective of encouraging excellence in newspaper editorial writing. The contest has been running for almost 60 years, and this is the fourth time that the Galway Advertiser has been selected as a winner. This is also the fourth time that Declan Varley has been named as a winner; firstly in 2003, and now for three years running, 2015, 2016, and 2017.
Mr Varley has been group editor of the Galway Advertiser group for 17 years and has worked as a journalist and writer for more than three decades.
Speaking last night after the Washington ceremony, he said that he is honoured to have been named as one of the winners.
“While there is obviously a personal excitement, the real fulfilment is that the Advertiser editorial slot has once again been recognised for its ability to highlight relevant social and community issues. It will continue to occupy that role.
“This editorial was written six months before the Rescue 116 tragedy, so it is fitting that its win honours the emergency services who every day and night risk their lives so that we can live ours,” he added.
The winning editorial -
Every community needs people like Caitriona Lucas
There is a scene in A Few Good Men where the character played by Jack Nicholson provoked by the Tom Cruise character, says that he represents those who stand guard on the wall while we sleep, while we have our parties, while we take liberty for granted, while we enjoy the freedoms that we have, because people like him are standing on that wall, day and night. Leaving aside the characteristics of that part he played, there resonates from his words the reality that exists in every community across the world.
At every hour of the day or night, there are people endangering themselves so that the rest of us don’t have to face danger. At night when we sit and watch TV, our gardai and fire service and ambulance crew are on standby lest anything should happen us.
Our hospitals await in readiness. Our rescue teams are but a call away.
This comes to mind this week, as we are saddened by the awful news of the death of coastguard Caitriona Lucas who gave her life and robbed her family of a wonderful member, so that another family would be able to find a missing person, or recover a body.
Caitriona was another unsung hero in her community. By all accounts she was remarkable, a librarian who loved and trained rescue dogs, who abseiled down a 40ft cliff face to rescue one small pup, who was an expert climber, and who at any hour of the day or night, was willing to throw on her boots and get onto the wild seas to make sure that those in peril got home.
Here on the west coast, we are most conscious of the dangers of the sea. Caitriona’s death was the first of any Coast Guard staff, but let us not believe for a minute that the mission that led to her death, was any less dangerous that than which is faced by all the other lifeboat and coastguard crews nightly around the country.
It is because of the presence of lifeboat services and mountain rescue teams that we feel more emboldened about enjoying the waters and the wild.
These are the people we meet when we flee situations. They are the faces that were going upstairs in the Twin Towers while we made our way down. They are the people who ushered us from danger in Paris, Brussels, and Nice, while going the other way themselves, confronting the danger.
Heroes may not necessarily be braver than anyone else, but they’re braver for five minutes longer.
Caitriona Lucas should be a role model for us all. Her busy, busy, giving life was one that we should all aspire to. We should all be more willing to give of our time and ability to give to our community. Every community needs people like Caitriona Lucas. No community can afford to lose her like.
Think of her sacrifice, of her family and friends, and appreciate and respect the great work done by her colleagues in all the emergency services who risk their lives, so that we may live ours.