Dan Donoher

Kildare Wildlife Rescue

Co. Kildare

As Kildare Wildlife Rescue manager, Dan Donoher manages dozens of volunteers, providing them with round-the-clock support for wildlife rescue and animal rehabilitation.

“My favourite part of the work I do is witnessing native Irish wildlife return to their natural habitats,” says Dan. “My team’s work helps to mitigate the imbalance that humans are directly and indirectly causing to our biodiversity.”

Kildare Wildlife Rescue has helped more than 1,000 animals since it was founded earlier this year.

“Dan is gracious with his time and knowledge,” say his volunteers. “His dedication to the community of volunteers is what makes Kildare Wildlife Rescue what it is. It’s all about teamwork but without Dan, that team simply wouldn’t exist.

“He has dedicated his life to wildlife. He’s always on hand to help wherever it’s needed, sharing his knowledge of our native animals. He supports and advises every single one of the volunteers. Wildlife rescue is so heart-breaking and he does it with such grace and kindness.

“It’s truly amazing what Dan has done. He will say it was all a team, but it would not have been possible without the community he has created.”

Michelle King

Barnardos – Wizards of Word reading programme

Co. Dublin

Michelle King is the manager of Barnardos’ WOW (Wizard of Words) literacy programme for children in 15 DEIS schools in Dublin. The programme includes approximately 130 volunteers who provide one-to-one reading support to children in disadvantaged communities and schools.

The programme benefits children in first and second class who fall just behind the age-appropriate reading level. Through WOW, the children are supported to develop their reading skills whilst creating positive and connected relationships with their volunteers.

At the end of the school year, the school hosts a graduation with the wizards of words who become WOW champions for their school and class. Michelle works to support the programme, the teachers, the staff, the children, and the volunteers.

“Michelle works creatively and energetically to ensure the children receive a quality service,” says Barnardos. “She kept things going throughout the pandemic – taking care of the children, the schools, the staff and the 130 volunteers during this very difficult time. Michelle and her team worked tirelessly and creatively to transform the programme into something that could be done remotely, to support children in their homes, and in the classroom once schools resumed.

“Michelle is kind, creative, passionate, and dedicated. She’s adored by all of her colleagues as well as the volunteers she manages. She’s incredibly friendly and approachable. She works extremely hard to ensure that all of the volunteers work in an environment that is comfortable, enjoyable, and rewarding. She is completely committed to the volunteers and the WOW programme.”

Carmel Murray

Irish Cancer Society

Co. Dublin

As the Irish Cancer Society’s ‘Relay For Life’ Fundraiser, Carmel Murray supported Relay For Life volunteers across the country. Relay For Life is a community event that celebrates those who have survived cancer, remembers loved ones lost to cancer, and invites the community to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with those experiencing cancer.

Each Relay is organised by a volunteer committee. Carmel acted as a support to all committees, helping them to plan their events, advocating on their behalf, and helping them to adjust their plans in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

When Carmel joined the Irish Cancer Society, she was open about her experience as a cancer survivor. She was enthusiastic about using her experience to help and inspire others. Shortly after accepting the role of Relay for Life Fundraiser, however, Carmel discovered her cancer had returned. Despite undergoing surgery, treatment, and hospital visits, she always maintained her focus on the cause and her commitment to helping others.

According to her Irish Cancer Society colleagues, “Carmel used her experience of cancer to fuel her passion for giving back to others and building Relay For Life in communities around Ireland. Despite all she went through, including treatment and surgery, she always looked for the positive, planned for the future, and kept her focus on making a difference for others.

“Carmel’s approach to volunteer management was unique because she used her own experience to empathise and connect with all her volunteers. She embodied the spirit of Relay For Life – to celebrate, remember, and fight back.”

“Since her passing in March, Carmel is hugely missed by all who knew her,” says the Irish Cancer Society. “Staff and volunteers hold deep admiration and respect for our beloved colleague and friend.”

We offer our deepest condolences to Carmel’s family, friends, and colleagues, and thank them for honouring Carmel with a Volunteer Ireland Award nomination. We’re proud to include Carmel in the Volunteer Managers shortlist.

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