Volunteers are a huge asset to the community and it is important that their efforts are recognised and celebrated, said Galway County Mayor Cllr Michael Maher when speaking at the first County Mayor’s Awards ceremony which was held at the Connemara Coast Hotel recently.
More than 250 people from community and voluntary groups from all around the county attended the event on Thursday, November 10, with Oranmore native Margaret McNulty picking up the coveted Volunteer of the Year 2011 award, a category which had a total of 38 nominations.
Ms McNulty is involved in many voluntary activities in and around Oranmore; she is currently chairperson of the Oranmore Tidy Towns Committee which recently won National Best Bottle Bank Award in the National Tidy Towns Competition in September. Apart from being a dedicated hard worker in the community Ms McNulty’s other talent is her ability to motivate and bring people together to help out in their community. On accepting this special award, Ms McNulty said that she was “truly humbled and amazed to receive the award especially when there were so many other brilliant volunteers that were equally as deserving”.
There were also 35 community and voluntary groups short-listed for more than seven categories. All the winners were presented with a beautiful slate sculpture of the sails of a Galway hooker set in a Galway stone base, all of which are thousands of years old.
The first award of the night was the Sports Award which recognises groups which have focused on increasing the number of people participating in sport. This was won by Tuam / Headford Special Olympics. Abbey Community Development won the Green Award for their work in the Tidy Towns programme in recent years, winning Galway’s Tidiest Town from 2005 to 2010 in the National Tidy Towns Competitions. The Arts Award was won by Clifden Community Arts Week, a festival which was started in the local community school in 1977 and has evolved to become a huge community wide celebration of the arts in Ireland.
Ballinasloe Enterprise Centre won the Community Enterprise Award. The centre provides workspace and support services to help start up enterprises and it is currently home to 15 enterprises, employing more than 180 people. The Youth Award was won by Sign out Youth Café in Portumna which is run by a group of young people aged between 15 and 19 and provides an extensive list of activities for young people in and around the Portumna area.
The Age Friendly Award was won by Portumna and District Active Retirement Association which has been running since 2003 and works towards empowering older people in the community. Clann Family Resource Centre in Oughterard won the Community Group Award. For nearly 10 years Clann has been providing services in the Oughterard and the surrounding area.