Volunteer Ireland
Connecting Communities Through Volunteering

2020 Volunteer Ireland Awardees Announced!

Congratulations to all of this year’s winners and nominees, thank you for all that you do. This year has been challenging to say the least but reading the incredible stories of volunteers across the country is a testament to the Irish spirit and willingness to give even in the toughest circumstances.

As a physical event was not possible this year each awardee received a special surprise delivery from Volunteer Ireland announcing their win. It included an engraved trophy, a framed message from President Higgins, and of course, a hamper of goodies to celebrate with.

Christine Buckley Volunteer of The Year

Arthur and Deborah Carr were today named Christine Buckley Volunteer of the Year for their outstanding commitment to supporting those in crisis in Galway. The couple are responsible for two voluntary mental health organisations in the area – mental health support line Galway East Life Support, and Claddagh Watch Patrol, which runs volunteer patrols aiming to prevent deaths by accident and suicide on the waterways of Galway City.

Not a week goes by where the couple aren’t both on the bridges of Galway, in between their behind the scenes work fundraising for vital equipment and trying to secure premises for the group. Together, they have recruited and trained over 80 volunteers for the patrol, ensuring they are supported and encouraged throughout. The role is as challenging one – earlier this year they came across a man at risk of suicide twice on the same night – but the couple remain undeterred and passionate about helping those in need.

According to Volunteer Ireland CEO Nina Arwitz “Arthur and Deborah embody everything about the true volunteering spirit. They have a clear passion for helping others and dedicate so much of their free time to supporting those in crisis. It is clear from their nomination that not only do they have a big impact on those they help but also on the team of volunteers they support and train to carry out what I’m sure at times is a very difficult role.”

2020 Category Awardees

Arts, Culture and Festivals

  • Helena Clarke, Glenamaddy Boyounagh Heritage, Galway
  • Kara Richards, Athlone Community Radio 88.4FM, Westmeath
  • Olive Murphy, Scaleforce, Louth

Read their stories…

Campaigning and Activism

  • Cathy Blake, OutWest and Mayo Pride, Mayo
  • Joe Murphy, Trócaire, Galway
  • John Tobin, Special Olympics Ireland, Meath

Read their stories…

Children and Youth

  • Billy Browne, Aontas Ógra Youth Club, Kildare
  • Karen Byrne, Children in Hospital Ireland, Dublin
  • Sandra McIntyre, Foróige, Cavan

Read their stories…


  • Ciara Dowling, Serve the City, Dublin
  • John Murray, COVID-19 Test Centre, Kildare
  • Róisín Kilgannon, Dromore West Sings, Sligo

Read their stories…

Environmental and Animal Care

  • Frank Glynn, Milltown Tidy Towns; Milltown Heritage Group; and Milltown Development Company, Galway
  • Julie Boulton, National Homechecks for Rescues Ireland, Laois
  • Shay Hamilton, Athlone Tidy Towns and Athlone Canal Regeneration Group, Westmeath

Read their stories…

Health and Wellbeing

  • Margaret Hurley, Irish Wheelchair Association, Clare
  • Maureen Keenaghan, The Alzheimer Society and Ballyshannon Community Garden, Donegal
  • William Cummings, Be Aware, Be Safe – Inner City Helping Homeless, Dublin

Read their stories…

Safety and Emergency Services

  • Alec Fitzmaurice, David McGrath and Fergal McGrath, RNLI, Waterford
  • Arthur and Deborah Carr, Claddagh Watch Patrol, Galway
  • John Fitzgerald, National Ambulance Service, Wicklow

Read their stories…

Social Inclusion and Community Support

  • Geraldine Molloy, Inner City Helping Homeless, Dublin
  • Noelle Fitzsimons, Victim Support at Court, Dublin
  • Pauline Matthews, Age Action Ireland, Cork

Read their stories…

Sports and Recreation

  • Beryl Kelly, Special Olympics Ireland, Wexford
  • John Foley, Kilgarvan GAA Hurling and Football Club, Kerry
  • Mick Hennessey, Clane Rugby and Tennis Clubs, Kildare

Read their stories…

Volunteer Manager

  • Fiona McCaffrey Jones and Mary McCrystal, Truagh Development Association, Monaghan
  • Nicola Yau, St Joseph’s Shankill, Dublin
  • Rachel Fitzpatrick, Friends of the Elderly, Dublin

Read their stories…

COVID-19 Group

  • Achill Community Response Centre, Mayo
  • Comfort4Covid, Dublin
  • South Dublin County Volunteer Corps – COVID-19 Test Centre Volunteers, Dublin

Read their stories…

Small Group (3-20)

  • Ballyhaunis Inclusion Project, Mayo
  • Irish Cancer Society – Parent Peer to Peer Support Network, Dublin
  • Irish Red Cross – D15 Unit, Dublin

Read their stories…

Large Group (20+)

  • ALONE Telephone Support and Befriending Volunteers, Nationwide
  • Muslim Sisters of Eire, Dublin
  • Serve the City, Dublin

Read their stories…