Andy Cullen

Husky Rescue Ireland

Co. Laois

Andy Cullen has been the backbone of Husky Rescue Ireland ever since founding it nine years ago. HRI works hard to help huskies and akitas in Ireland by re-homing dogs who might be unwanted or uncared for, providing medical care like neutering or vaccinations, providing care for the dogs through grooming and play, and also educating the public about how to best love their furry friends. They also do advocacy work so our laws value huskies and Akitas.  

“Andy has saved hundreds of dogs, if not more, from the pounds, as strays, and taken in the most horrendously neglected dogs to care for them,” write his nominator, “Without the help of Andy, a lot of huskies and Akitas would no longer be here.”  

Recently, at the height of the war in Ukraine, Andy travelled there to help get Ukrainian dogs to safety. He personally transported dogs to Poland, and his experience with animals saved the lives of many high risk animals including sick and pregnant dogs. HRI also organized donations so that two full vans of animal care supplies were made available to Ukrainian refugees who brought their dogs with them when they left. In Ireland, weather, travel time and inconvenience won’t stop Andy from rescuing a husky or Akita, but now we know even war won’t stop his determined care.  

Dónal McCormack

Community Gardens Ireland, Blessington Allotments Campaign, and Blessington & District Forum

Co. Wicklow 

Dónal McCormack, and his green thumb, have volunteered for almost six years with Blessington Allotments Campaign, three years with Community Gardens Ireland and four years with Blessington & District Forum, all in service of promoting community growing spaces and promoting the ecological impact of gardening.   

Dónal was co-opted onto the Community Gardens Ireland (CGI) committee in January 2021 and has led their advocacy efforts at a national level.  In this role he presented to the Oireachtas for improved policies and legislation regarding the provision, development, and protection of community growing spaces. He wrote submissions and responses to seven national legislation and policy consultations on behalf of CGI during 2021. 

It is important for Dónal to share his love of nature, especially with children. He devised a programme to distribute strawberry plants to young children to experience and learn about the fun and satisfaction of growing their own food, which was a huge hit. Children shared their sense of accomplishment and curiosity about food cultivation, and parents loved the novel at-home learning that the plants facilitated during COVID. In 2023, through multiple grants and collaborations with other Blessington groups, all of  the 1,100 primary school children in Blessington received their own pollinator-friendly fruit plant or tree.   

“One of the most memorable moments of this project was Dónal in his kitchen at 2 am, surrounded by hundreds of tiny strawberry plants, trying to figure out how to get across the room without standing on any of them” writes his nominator. 

Stephen Shanahan

Connecting Cabra

Co. Dublin 

Stephen Shanahan has been working to improve biodiversity all his life, including the last five years as a committee member and the biodiversity lead for Connecting Cabra. He manages gardens, cares for green spaces in the community, and even works to establish new areas of natural beauty. The wildflower meadow on the Drumcliffe Green and the long-flowering meadow, mini-orchard, and native hedgerow at Christ the King Church are just two of his recent projects to protect and enhance the green spaces of Cabra. 

In April 2023, Stephen was approached by the former Lord Mayor of Dublin to create a pollinator-friendly corridor from Trinity College to St. Stephen’s Green using tubs, flower boxes, and hanging baskets. The aim was to provide a food source for pollinators while enhancing the area’s visual appeal. He selected the most suitable plants, trees, and shrubs based on the All-Ireland pollinator plan and worked tirelessly during the May bank holiday weekend to set up beautiful tubs, planters, boxes, and hanging baskets.  

Stephen is equally mindful of the animal life in a place, creating essential habitats in the local area for bees, moths, hoverflies, and other pollinators. He also establishes wetlands for frogs and insects that, in turn, provides sustenance for local bats. All of this knowledge about ecosystems is passed on to the next generation as he teaches children about the earth, helping them to collect and cultivate seeds, and care for their community spaces.  

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