Volunteer Ireland
Connecting Communities Through Volunteering

Sports and Recreation Awardees 2020

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

Read each of their inspiring stories below.

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2020 Awardees Announced



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Beryl Kelly, Special Olympics Ireland, Wexford

Beryl has been involved with Special Olympics since the Ireland World Games in 2003. In 2005 she was one of the founding members of the Special Olympics Club Gorey Area, providing a sporting and social outlet for over 100 individuals with an Intellectual Disability.

Proving no job is too big for Beryl she has embraced and taken on a variety of roles – Club Secretary, Safety Officer, Membership Officer, Medical and Safeguarding Officer. Beryl continues to volunteer on a weekly basis in the club and will when required take on any role to ensure the club session runs efficiently and effectively whilst ensuring both athletes and volunteers have a fun time.

She is a leader and advocator for empowering and educating the volunteers in the Club ensuring that they are compliant and have the relevant qualification required for their role and function. Working with people with Intellectual Disability for any volunteer may be challenging and to ensure that volunteers within the Club had pertinent skills she ensured that all volunteers availed of six intellectual disability modules of education that Special Olympics designed in association with Trinity College Dublin.

Beryl is very much a person who will step up and help out wherever she can and if she can’t assist you she will look to find someone who can.

John Foley, Kilgarvan GAA Hurling and Football Club, Kerry

John is dedicated to Kilgarvan GAA Club. He has a wife and four children and works in Cork which is a 3 hour journey every day. He coaches the U10 and U12s and goes to all the matches, he also coaches the minor football and hurlers and goes to all their matches. He is a selector with the senior team and is at all their matches too. He is chairman of the club and will do whatever is necessary and whatever jobs need to be done. He never says no to a job and will do anything necessary for the club and its members.

He has a great way of coaching children and young people. The boys he coached 10 years ago are now part of the senior team. They all look up to John and would go through a wall for him if they had to! In terms of club development he is very forward thinking and will always propose or keep a project moving. He has worked on a number of projects over the past 3 years which we the club have been able to bring to completion including floodlights.

Mick Hennessey, Clane Rugby and Tennis Clubs, Kildare

Mick has been a volunteer with Clane Rugby Club since 1987 and Clane Tennis Club since 1973, impacting 3 generations of young people in Clane.

His grit and determination has ensured that rugby and tennis were available to all kids in the area. He never turned any children away. He looks for solutions so that every kid can play. Mick is a firm believer that sport is not just about sport but about the development of self-belief, self-esteem, social interactions that teach teamwork and dignity when things don’t go right.

In 1973, Mick was a founding member of the Clane Tennis Club and is still involved to this day. Mick constantly strives for the population of Clane to have access to tennis but particularly for the children. Earlier this year, he put together a coaching programme for 170 children in 3 age groups to have tennis coaching throughout the winter and all in line with COVID-19 protocols.

In the rugby club, Mick has volunteered there since 1987 shortly after its foundation. Initially he was involved with coaching and mentoring particularly when his own sons played. Mick has stayed involved ever since even though his sons have grown up and moved away. Mick now is a core member of the executive comittee.