Major award for Tuam occupational therapist

A County Galway based occupational therapist has walked away with a Young Volunteer of the Year Award.

Laura Walsh, who is recently qualified, volunteers with the Irish Wheelchair Association in Tuam.

She received the prestigious award, which is run by the organisation, in Dublin recently.  She supports the association’s members on a one-to-one basis by sharing her professional skills and knowledge. She also participates in a variety of group activities within the service. 

Former RTE newscaster and psychoanalyst Michael Murphy presented her with the award while the CEO of Irish Wheelchair Association, Kathleen McLoughlin acknowledged her contribution: 

“From the time the association was founded, volunteers have played a vital role in the success of IWA. In the early days when no State support was available to provide services, volunteers stepped in to support individuals and in doing so transformed their quality of life.

“This ethos remains embedded within the IWA today. The Irish Wheelchair Association is supported by young volunteers from local communities throughout Ireland. Through the IWA Young Volunteer of the Year award, the association wishes to acknowledge the significant contribution of young people. I would like to congratulate Laura on her award and to thank her for sharing her time, passion and skills and demonstrating a commitment which ensures the IWA makes a difference every day to the lives of people with physical disabilities and reduced mobility.”

She outlined that the Irish Wheelchair Association (IWA ) has more than 2,000 registered volunteers who are a “critical life force” within the association.

“Each year the association calls for nominations for the prestigious ‘IWA Volunteer Awards’ which recognise the important contribution of the association’s dedicated network of volunteers in supporting its members to have an enhanced quality of life.

“There are five categories involved in the programme which provide an opportunity for IWA members, service users, staff, supporters, family and friends to show their appreciation for all that volunteers contribute to IWA and to recognise those individuals who give their time freely to benefit their local community.  Each volunteer plays a valuable role within IWA, whether it is painting a building, organising a church gate collection, working in one of the association’s 12 charity shops, driving an accessible bus to Croke Park for the Sunday game, teaching, mentoring or providing opportunities for social interaction.”

She added that the association is always seeking volunteers in local communities and anyone interested in getting involved should log on to www.iwa.ie/information/volunteers 

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