Cormac Sertutxa, Irish Red Cross, Kerry

Cormac has been volunteering with numerous different organisations for the last seven years and with the Irish Red Cross for over four of those. Since joining the Red Cross, Cormac has volunteered and continues to volunteer in different roles. These include: providing pre-hospital emergency care as a Responder at different events throughout the year as part of the Irish Red Cross Ambulance Unit, providing leadership and training to the Irish Red Cross youth members as a Youth Leader, acting as a general committee member of the local Irish Red Cross Branch in Tralee and more recently, overseeing the development and coordination of all Health & Social Care services in the county.

As part of his role as the Irish Red Cross Health & Social Care Officer responsible for service development and coordination in Kerry, Cormac spends every day focused on his role to develop the supports and services that the Irish Red Cross can offer to vulnerable members in our local communities in order to promote healthy & safe living and build more resilient communities around Kerry.

Cormac has also volunteered with a number of other organisations including Southwest Motorsport Rescue Unit, Cycle Against Suicide, Killorglin Community First Responders, Comhairle na nÓg, Keel/Castlemaine Youth Club and Killorglin KDYS Neighbourhood Project.

Cormac coordinates visits to the local Community Nursing Unit for Valentine’s Day, with a delivery of red roses for each resident and he also arranges visits throughout the year to the children’s ward in University Hospital Kerry, where the children receive a special visit from the local Irish Red Cross mascot, Red Fred, along with Red Cross members who bring gifts to the ward and spend time with the children.

Cormac is one of the first two ever to be trained as Psychological First Aid Facilitators in the county and he is currently developing this training to fit into local context. He will be training people up around the county as Psychological First Aiders to promote healthy and safe living. He has also developed the Community Active Lifestyle Walking Group Programme to promote social inclusion and tackle certain health issues by offering a regular, easy to access walk programme supported by local Irish Red Cross Walk Leaders. Along with these, Cormac is coordinating a county wide service that the Irish Red Cross are offering to care facilities.

Mike Fisher, Wicklow Dementia Support, Wicklow

Everyone in the different organisations Mike volunteers with describe Mike as caring, dependable and dedicated. A dedication to volunteering for almost 60 years. All his adult life he has seen a need and quietly stepped in. It is the combined effect of these roles and the longevity of service that highlights his dedication to volunteering and his community.

Mike has been involved with Wicklow Dementia Support (a local charity supporting people with dementia in the community) since 2013. While need and awareness dementia has grown, Mike has always been there. Quietly dependable, helping in all aspects of the charity. He has been an ‘alz pal’since 2013. An alz pal is a companion for a person with dementia in the community. He has embraced this role, recognizing the difficult and isolating situation that many people and their families face, with patience, decency and care. He has a belief that all people deserve person hood and should be treated with respect and dignity.

He has helped to develop and co-ordinate 3 social clubs in the community. As well as organizing skills, he has an instinct for involving people with dementia: putting people at their ease; not fussing; engaging in normalizing activities- a joke, a cup of tea, a chat. In other words, he is kind and compassionate.

Mike has served on the management board of Wicklow Dementia Support for 3 years. He is always available for social events, fund raising and actually, anything the organisation needs. In earlier times, Mike was a keen and dedicated cub and scout leader. He served for almost 20 years, eventually becoming District Commissioner of the East Coast Region.

Having retired from scouting, Mike immediately began to volunteer fundraising for the RNLI. He has been a dedicated fundraiser for 30 years. Mike initially helped his wife with the Greystones Meals on Wheels Service. Once again, he saw the need for this vital service and has continued to volunteer – driving and delivering meals for 9 years (now himself aged 77). He has also been described as a good neighbour, and helps at his local church – St. Patrick’s Greystones.

Willie Walsh, Carrigaline Family Support Centre, Cork

Willie has been volunteering in a number of roles with the Carrigaline Family Support Centre in Cork for almost 9 years. Willie’s dedication is best described by Tina, Manager of the Centre, who nominated him “Willie is one of the most wonderful giving people I have been honoured to work with. Willie sits as a director on my board of directors but gives so much time besides this huge commitment to us and other organisations in the Village. It is extraordinary. Any time we need assistance he arrives to help. If we have an individual that needs to be helped on our bus or simply needs the assistance to attend medical appointments at the hospital he will make himself available. If there is a problem with our community bus he sorts it. If there is an event that needs to be manned, he makes himself available. If I need to talk something through. He is always there. We are not the only group Willie works with. He helps out at the church and is famous throughout the village for his work with young people in the local soccer club.”

He was instrumental in helping set up the centre’s travel assist programme. This helps mainly wheelchair users but not exclusively patients that attend hospital appointments. It is also for individuals who need support to get to specialised treatments and who do not have family members to take them or don’t have wheel chair accessible vehicles. Willie travels on the bus when needed to help with getting the wheelchair on and secure but also to keep the person company.

According to Tina “For the Family Support Centre it is his unwavering support and belief that we make a difference to people’s lives. His understanding of how a human being can be broken but given love, empathy and kindness can give even the most hopeless individuals a chance to improve their lives.He believes love can truly conquer all. That being kind to one another can make all the difference. If there were more hours in the day Willie would find more people to help.”