George and Mary Sugrue, Chernobyl Children International, Kerry

Husband and wife team, George and Mary, have been volunteering with Chernobyl Children International for over 20 years. Through their advocacy and hard work they founded and single-handedly run the Chernobyl Children International Dental Programme. Each year they drive over 3,000kms to provide high standard dental care to children who have been abandoned to Children’s Mental Asylums. This year, they have expanded their programme with a mobile dental unit which is used to treat terminally ill children on CCI’s Hospice and Palliative Care Programme reaching almost 200 children with life-limiting illnesses.

They have assisted in the delivery of over €105million in humanitarian aid to Belarus and have subsequently travelled with convoys of aid to ensure its safe delivery. 2017 marked their 21st and 19th convoy respectively that they have been involved with for CCI. They are so dedicated that they have even bought an ambulance and built a warehouse in their garden which they fill with aid supplies throughout the year for children left languishing in institutions across Belarus.

They have actively reunited numerous children with their biological families and most recently have started looking for a foster home for a young girl, whose biological family are not a viable option. They have directly saved the lives of many children, reuniting them with families and offering them a    future of hope and freedom.

Irene Geelan, Fáilte Isteach, Sligo

Irene has been involved with the continuous running of this project –  which provides an opportunity for non-native speakers to meet to either learn or practice their English language skills – since 2008. Thanks to her, this project has maintained its presence in the community for many years; it has seen many participants pass through its doors and progress to further integration in Irish society, e.g. further education, training and/or work. The project also provides an important social outlet for many.

Irene has also taken charge of the all-important tea break. She supplies all of the tea, coffee and goodies for everyone. Her calm, quiet approach is exactly the ingredient required as many of the participants are unsure or lacking in confidence when they join. She works creatively with learners by utilising resources that they are most likely going to encounter on a day to day basis.

Elizabeth Naughton, Ozanam House, Roscommon

Elizabeth retired from her occupation as a community health nurse over eighteen years ago. During her time as a nurse she identified the need for a centre where older people could come for a meal and to engage in community activity and avail of other services. She felt this would be a very important facility for isolated people to help support them to continue living in their own homes.
On retirement she, with the support of a small committee, started her project with about ten older people attending weekly at a room in the dancehall at the Royal Oak. The centre was opened in 2000 which is a hive of activity today.

Elizabeth has managed the centre since its opening. The centre currently caters for between 30 and 40 ladies and gentlemen between the ages of 66 right up to mid-nineties. When clients arrive they have tea and homemade bread and a 3 course dinner at lunch time. Elizabeth arranges card and bingo playing, dancing, yoga classes, craft classes, health talks and safety classes for them. They have approximately 6 – 7 outings every year, two Christmas parties and a party when the centre takes a break in the summer. Elizabeth gives her time and her many skills as a nurse voluntarily five days a week to manage the centre to the very highest standard possible.