Dundalk volunteers Hattie and Mary earn recognition for their dedication

Community: Hard work and dedication of local women

Dundalk volunteers Hattie and Mary earn recognition for their dedication

Two very well-known ‘local legends’ were recognised for their unflinching volunteer work as part of International Volunteer Managers’ Day last Thursday.

Louth Volunteer Centre organised the first Louth Volunteer Leader’s Awards to mark the date. The Awards tied in with the ‘Louth Land of Legends’ theme that has run throughout 2020.

Louth Volunteer Centre Manager Gráinne Berrill, explained how despite the ongoing pandemic the volunteering spirit shone brightly through the darkness.

“What a year this has been, amidst all the darkness our communities and how Irish people are willing to volunteer their time for others has been a shining light. Of course, what many people don’t see is the people behind the volunteers – the organisers, coordinators, trainers and supporters of volunteers. This International Volunteer Managers day we wanted to shine a light on these local legends by celebrating the fantastic work they do.”

The Louth Volunteer Centre team said they were delighted with the response from the local community, receiving three times as many nominations as they expected from all across Louth.

Three awardees were selected in a blind judging process by an independent panel of judges, Nina Arwitz, CEO of Volunteer Ireland, Gerry Kelly of LMFM’s Late Lunch and Mary Deery Age Friendly Coordinator and Community Development Officer, Louth County Council, one from the Drogheda / South Louth area, one from the Mid Louth area and one from the Dundalk / North Louth area.

The judges noted the high calibre of nominations with Nina Arwitz noting: “It was great to be part of the process and get to know the breadth of brilliant volunteering happening in Louth in more detail.”

The awardee for Dundalk / North Louth is Hattie Billingham, of SOSAD Ireland’s Dundalk office and for Mid Louth is Mary Murtagh of Dromiskin Tidy Towns and Louth Tidy Towns together.

Both were noted as being extremely deserving volunteer leaders by the judges.

Hattie’s nomination stated: “Hattie makes volunteering in SOSAD a joy. She makes the service open for anybody to volunteer no matter what their skillsets are…She’s very easy to volunteer under, so understanding and brilliant at motivating volunteers.”

Mary’s nomination was similarly effusive: “Mary is the person to whom all Tidy Towns volunteers look to for advice and help when in trouble, and has been unselfishly generous in giving her time to any of them who need the benefit of her expertise, experience and insights.

“She is the face of Tidy Towns in the County, but her reputation has extended far beyond Louth and she is one of the most experience and well known Tidy Towns volunteers in the entire country”

Due to Covid-19 Louth Volunteer Centre could not hold an event to celebrate the winners so they organised a surprise on International Volunteer Manager’s Day where awardees could receive their award within the restrictions.

It took a bit of organising, but the Louth Volunteer Centre team managed to surprise both Hattie and Mary, within the current restrictions, with their award, a custom creation from ceramic artist Sarah McKenna, flowers and chocolates. Both were cheered on by their own volunteers on the day who were really delighted that they had won. Everyone who was nominated for an award will receive a thank you card and certificate of recognition over the next few days.

More information on awardees is available on their social media (@volunteerlouth) or website, www.volunteerlouth.ie.

If you are in a community group or organisation who would like some support with involving volunteers contact the Louth Volunteer Centre team at 041 9809008 or info@volunteerlouth.ie.

All their services are free and they are available Monday to Friday, even during the current restrictions.