Community Shortlist 2019

 

Patricia Keane

Various Organisations, Galway.

Patricia has volunteered for over 40 years in the Letterfrack community. She was a member of the Board of Management of Letterfrack NS where she was one of the founder members of the Parents’ Council. Patricia set up and ran a badminton club for national school children and then went on to set up and run a youth club called Ellis Hall Drop-in Centre for teenagers and younger children.

In the ‘90’s, Patricia with her friend Mary Coyne organised a sponsored swim in aid of ChildLine. This turned into what is known as Watersports Day on Glassilaun Beach, Renvyle, Co. Galway. Twenty five years later the event has grown from strength to strength and has risen in the region of €70,000 for charities working with children – Childline in the early years and now CARI (Children at Risk Ireland). Patricia is particularly proud of an off shoot of this event- the poster competition. National school children colour in the posters used to advertise the day, this is a way of putting Helpline numbers into the hands of children from over 50 schools in Connemara, West Galway and South Mayo. With one in five children reported to experience abuse in Ireland the committee feel this is very important work.

Other activities Patricia has been involved with over the years include organising Traditional Music Sessions for famine relief in Africa and various other countries suffering from war or natural disasters such as earthquakes etc. More recently she has been involved in fundraising to help Galway’s homeless raising over €10,000 last year for Cope Galway.

 

Eddie Phelan

Various Organisations, Louth.

Eddie has volunteered for over 10 years with numerous organisations in Drogheda including the Fleadh Cheoil Bid Committee and with the Boyneside Trail. Eddie is an engineer by trade and uses these skills in his volunteer roles. He has given back to many local organisations and supports many local schools and community groups with expert advice on their developments and planning applications.

Possibly Eddie’s greates acheivement is that of the Boyneside Trail. The River Boyne cuts a swathe through the town but the architecture and design of the town means that everything turns away from the river. Arising from an idea in RTE Local Heroes in 2011, Eddie and 2 others developed the concept for the Boyneside Trail – a walkway from the mouth of the Boyne to the historic site of the Battle of the Boyne at Oldbridge. Eddie developed a beautiful design to allow walkers, runners and cyclists to enjoy the riverside amenity. When obstacles got in the way, Eddie just worked out who could help, where funding could be secured and how it could happen. The first phase of the Boyneside Trail is open and much loved by locals and visitors alike. The second half is in the final stages of planning consultation and should become a reality in the next year.

 

Ken Smollen

Ken Smollen Food Appeal, Offaly.

Ken set up the Ken Smollen Food Appeal which organises various teams of people across counties such as Offaly, Laois and Westmeath to have food drives and appeals in their local supermarkets. He collects food almost every day from various groups and delivers it to families in need.

According to Ken “The reason that I initially got involved in getting food to families in their homes was by attending Repossession Courts in Tullamore and many similar courts throughout the country to support families threatened with losing their homes. It was then that I discovered that many families were going without adequate amounts of food in order that they could pay as much as possible towards their mortgage repayments. I then discovered that some were going to Dublin and the larger centres to queue up for food. We then decided to come back to Offaly and the other Midlands counties as I was aware that many people couldn’t make it to the larger centres to get food.”

He is meticulous about checking dates on the food and making sure that every bag that is delivered has the essentials but also a treat for children, such as biscuits or children’s cereal. He goes on his deliveries in the evenings and sometimes he may not be finished until midnight. He delivers alone so the confidentiality of the families is not broken. As food poverty is so hidden, people feel ashamed and he wants to make sure he doesn’t let out their “secret”. He has over 600 families on his list at present.

Ken created the food appeal after spending a night on the streets of Dublin with a homeless charity. He could see children queuing for food and knew that because there was no help in the midlands, he figured there must be families in need there too.

There are so many teams of people who donate food to him and the appeal regularly and that’s thanks to him and the updates he gives about how the families are doing after he has visited them.