Volunteer Ireland
Connecting Communities Through Volunteering

Campaigning and Activism Awardees 2020


We are so proud to announce this years winners in the Campaigning and Activism Category. This year we are celebrating three outstanding volunteers in each category.

Read each of their inspiring stories below.


Cathy Blake, OutWest and Mayo Pride, Mayo


Cathy has been a dedicated advocate for LGBT+ rights in the west of Ireland. Cathy devotes a lot of her spare time to the Connacht-based LGBT+ social, support, and advocacy Group “OutWest”, and was instrumental in the setting up of Mayo Pride, and bringing Pride celebrations, to County Mayo for the first time ever in 2017.

Cathy gives her all to the sustainability of OutWest through steering the organisation as a chairperson and now supporting the organisation as the current treasurer. Cathy has done an amazing job bringing together supports for the LGBT+ community with the opening of OutWest LGBT+ Drop-in Service in Le Chéile FRC, Castlebar. Not to mention the added development of a new structure to OutWest with Regional Co-ordindator positions to act as points of contact with the wider LGBT+ community in Connacht.

This passion made her the driving force behind the first ever Mayo Pride in 2017. We received a number of nominations for Cathy highlighting just how important this was to the local community. “Having an outlet for LGBT+ people in the community goes beyond words. Accepting yourself in the world we grew up in is difficult enough, without the judgement of everyone around you adding to it. This is why it’s so important for people who are going through this struggle and pain have a place to be themselves and understand that they are not alone.”

Joe Murphy, Trócaire, Galway


As an outreach volunteer, Joe helps with raising awareness on issues of social justice in the community and schools. He also campaigns on business and human rights, land rights, environmental rights and for Palestinian rights.

Since starting to volunteer in 2019, Joe has taken part in every single activity that Trócaire have organised. From visiting schools as part of the Lenten campaign to speaking to the public at popular festivals like Bloom. Joe has even visited Geneva with 5 other volunteers to meet with other INGOs, the Irish UN Ambassador and witness the 5th UN session for the Treaty on Business and Human Rights.

Since the lockdown Joe has kept busy organising for the publication of the 200th anniversary booklet in his local church. He’s asked for Trócaire to benefit from the sale of the booklet and to feature in it too.

Joe has had a great impact on his fellow volunteers by bringing energy, kindness and positive constructive ideas to conversations with the volunteer team. He’s quite knowledgeable and intelligent and is eager to share with others.

Joe has had a positive impact on communities that Trócaire supports thanks to his hard work in raising awareness on their difficulties and struggles from here in Ireland. He’s also supported the organisation’s fundraising with his own initiatives throughout his volunteering work.

John Tobin, Special Olympics Ireland, Meath


John is a long serving volunteer with Special Olympics and has volunteered with the organisation for over 11 years. Separate to his volunteering in a Special Olympics capacity, John has been involved with local hospices, charities and fundraising drives for over 40 years in his local area of Trim, Co. Meath.

John is a key volunteer fundraiser and is the person who spearheads the annual Special Olympics Ireland Golf Classic. John’s Golf Classic has just completed its 11th successive outing, not even COVID-19 or knee surgery could stop John from making the event happen and being a complete success.

John’s ability to stay passionate about these events through this time of difficulty has resulted in volunteer participation growing year on year. He does this by engaging honestly and coherently with local business leaders, business groups and his fellow community members. His support of Special Olympics and his network of volunteers never flounders. Quite simply, John is a man who gets the job done and people are willing to support.

Over the last 11 years John’s Golf Classic in aid of Special Olympics Ireland has raised over €132,000. A huge sum of money that has been used to provide sports programmes to people with an intellectual disability throughout the Leinster region.