Volunteer Ireland Launch Annual Awards with a Call for Nominations for Ireland’s Best Volunteers

Volunteer Ireland today (3 Septembber) launched its seventh annual Volunteer Ireland Awards with a call for nominations. The Volunteer Ireland Awards are open to volunteers of all ages working with Irish Volunteer organisations and there are ten different award categories, as well as its overall ‘Volunteer of the Year’ award.

The Volunteer Ireland awards are the national awards to celebrate volunteering in Ireland. The Awards aim to celebrate and recognise the thousands of people across Ireland who give their time to benefit others.

“We’re calling on members of the public now to take this opportunity to say thank you to their local volunteers, and to nominate an outstanding volunteer they know.”

Speaking at the launch today, John Cotterell, Manager of Louth Volunteer Centre and Volunteer Ireland Board Member, said: “Volunteers are one of Ireland’s most precious resources. So far this year, over 8,000 volunteers have registered with local Volunteer Centres and I-VOL, Volunteer Ireland’s national database and smartphone app. These volunteers have clocked up an incredible 300,000 hours of volunteering. Using the average industrial wage, this work has an equivalent value of over €6.6 million.

“For those who have found themselves unemployed or underemployed as a result of the recession, volunteering is a wonderful way of sharing your expertise and developing new skills. In the first year of the recession Volunteer Ireland and local Volunteer Centres saw a one hundred per cent increase in people registering to volunteer, and levels have remained at similar levels ever since.

“We’re calling on members of the public now to take this opportunity to say thank you to their local volunteers, and to nominate an outstanding volunteer they know.”

The Awards were launched at a special event today by RTÉ presenter and host of the Volunteer Ireland Awards, Keelin Shanley, who was joined by 2013 ‘Volunteer of the Year’ Awardees, Declan and Darryl Barry, who received the top honour for their volunteer work with Waterford Marine Search and Rescue.

Volunteer Ireland today also announced that the 'Volunteer of the Year' award will, from this year onwards, be named in memory of Christine Buckley. As co-founder of The Aislinn Centre, Christine campaigned tirelessly on behalf of victims of institutional abuse for more than 25 years. Christine was Ireland's Volunteer of the Year in 2009 and went on to be presented with the award for 'European Volunteer of the Year' at the European Parliament in Strasbourg the same year. Christine sadly passed away in March this year. The Christine Buckley Volunteer of the Year Award will be presented to one of the 30 shortlisted volunteers for the Volunteer Ireland Awards.


Commenting on the announcement, Cliona Buckley, Christine's daughter, said "As a volunteer co-founder of the Aislinn Education and Support Centre for Survivors of Institutionalised Abuse, mum helped to transform people’s lives. Volunteering is at the heart of The Aislinn Centre's work – a team of dedicated volunteers make the Centre's work possible, including co–founder and current Volunteer Director Carmel Mc Donnell–Byrne.

“We are honoured that Volunteer Ireland is naming the Volunteer of the Year Award in memory of our mum. Appreciation, recognition and gratitude are vital to sustain volunteers in their work for charities, communities and individuals. I look forward to attending the Volunteer Ireland Awards ceremony in December to present the inaugural Christine Buckley Volunteer of the Year Award to one of Ireland's most outstanding volunteers. The Volunteer Ireland Awards are an invaluable opportunity for the Irish public to support and appreciate the incredible work of volunteers - work which may otherwise go unrecognised."

Anyone can nominate a volunteer, and the ten categories are:

- Arts, Culture and Media

- Animals and Environment

- Campaigning and Awareness Raising

- Children and Young People

- Community

- Education and Training

- Health and Disability

- International Development

- Social Work

- Sports and Recreation

Nominations close Friday, 24th October 2014 and can be made here. Ireland’s ‘Volunteer of the Year’ and the 10 overall category winners will be announced at a gala awards ceremony Thursday, 4th December in City Hall, Dublin.

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The ten longest serving nominees will also be automatically nominated for the Charity Hero Award in association with the Better Together Campaign. The winner will be announced at the Better Together Awards on 11 December.