Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Michael Ring TD, announced the winners of the National Volunteers in Sport Awards at an awards ceremony in the Aviva Stadium on Wednesday, 19th November.
The Volunteers in Sport Awards 2014 are presented by the Federation of Irish Sport, the Department of Transport, Tourism & Sport, the Irish Sports Council and the Community Foundation of Ireland.
First held in 2007, the objective of the national awards programme is to honour ten individuals as representatives of the huge body of volunteers in sport who give of their time in various capacities through the structure of sports clubs and groups to sport in Ireland.
Speaking at the awards ceremony Minister Michael Ring TD said: ‘The work of volunteers is the foundation on which sport in Ireland is built – without volunteers there would be no sport in Ireland. These awards allow us to honour some of the real heroes of Irish sport working behind the scenes. Volunteers are a vital part of every club and sporting organisation around the country and are doing wonderful work for sport in their communities.’
Ten winners were selected to receive an award from the nominations received. A Lifetime Achievement award was also presented to Sean Naughton. Minister Michael Ring commented: ‘At eighty one years of age Sean remains active in athletics and can regularly be seen in the indoor stadium mentoring, encouraging and coaching young athletics and coaches alike. His lifetime voluntary contribution to sport at a local, national and international level makes him an ideal candidate for the life time achievement award.’
Sarah O’Connor, Chief Executive of the Federation of Irish Sport commented “Irish Sport is hugely dependent on the volunteer. Without them, many of the 2.8 million people who partake in Sport in Ireland simply would not have the opportunity to do so. These awards give us an opportunity to say thank you to a small representative group from this hugely significant workforce, the value of which in economic terms has been estimated at up to €3 billion per year”.
John Treacy, CEO Irish Sports Council said “Volunteers play a vital role in sustaining the high level of sporting activity in Ireland with all the associated health and social benefits, and contribute significantly to the development of sport in Ireland. The commitment, dedication and leadership of Ireland’s sporting volunteers, allows athletes and communities to participate in sport all around the country”.
The award winners were selected by a committee chaired by Dr. Ronnie Delany. Also on the committee were representatives from the Federation of Irish Sport, the Irish Sports Council, the Irish Times, RTE and the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport. The winners at the National Volunteers in Sport Awards 2014 are as follows:
Tony Cummins – Adult Coach Award
Tony was nominated for his contribution to sport in Gailltir, Co. Waterford and in particular to Camogie and has been a volunteer in the club since 1958. Tony has guided, managed and influenced three generations of families throughout three different parishes over a 56 year period and is broadly recognised as an individual whose personal intervention has contributed to many achievements for a vast number of people and their families in the area.
Tony Hehir – Adult Manager Award
Tony has contributed in all aspects in the sport of basketball for approximately 30 years.
Tony’s work has had a major impact on the promotion of Basketball as a sport in Limerick and across Ireland. Tony continuously works with everyone in the community to get people involved in the club including children with disabilities. The club promotes participation with all kids and provide multiple teams at each age group to ensure that everyone gets games throughout the year.
Patrick Akpoveta – Youth Coach Award
Patrick has been a Special Olympics Volunteer since 2003 and has volunteered in the Special Olympics World Summer Games. Patrick has also coached Basketball and Football teams in various age groups in Ballyfermot and Inchicore and founded Adamstown United FC, a school boy football club in Adamstown, Lucan in 2011. Patrick actively volunteers his time as a coach and manager in the club which caters for 50 children from diverse background playing in the schoolboys South Dublin Football League.
Paddy Christie – Youth Manager Award
Even in his days as Dublin’s full back, Paddy was coaching children’s teams and managed a team that went on to win two Dublin U-21 titles. Paddy started an U10’s team seven years ago, winning the All Ireland under 14 feile title. Paddy also serves on the juvenile committee and is a supporter of all the teams within the club, he still manages the team that won the All-Ireland and are now at minor (U-18) level. Paddy is at the heart of the volunteerism continuously working tirelessly in the background.
Danielle Keane – Community Administrator Award
Danielle is a role model for volunteerism in sport and although is actively playing Danielle continues to give so much back to her community. At Park Ratheniska Danielle is Treasurer along with playing senior football and coaching U8/10’s, U16’s and minor to a county Final in 2013. In basketball Danielle plays competitively and is the fundraising chairperson in the club along with coaching underage. Danielle also plays with the Laois Ladies Senior Football Panel.
Mary Sharp – National Administrator Award
Mary Sharp has been the epicentre of Leinster and Irish cricket for over 38 years. Within the Leinster Cricket Union Mary has served in nearly every possible role and currently occupies the position of Honorary Secretary, a demanding role she has fulfilled with outstanding loyalty, enthusiasm and diligence for many years. On a national level Mary and been instrumental in the running of Ireland’s premier club competition – the Irish Senior Cup and, in recent years, the Irish National Cup. Mary was named as the first ever recipient of the ‘Outstanding contribution to Irish cricket’ award, which was presented at the 2013 Cricket Ireland Awards and in January of this year.
Shane Carolan – Disabilities Sport Volunteer Award
Shane Carolan has been involved with Special Olympics Leinster since September 2007 and has made a significant impact at both local and national level. Shane has developed the unique sport of Motor Activities Training Programme (MATP) in Special Olympics Leinster. MATP is focused on the development of fundamental motor skills and is designed for athletes who have not yet gained the necessary skills for participation in structured sports training. Shane is currently responsible for overseeing 24 head coaches across 14 sports and a further 95 Coach Chaperones, assisting the 300 athletes attending the Games.
Ernie Deacy – Sporting Official Award
Over the last 20 Ernie has made a huge voluntary contribution to athletics. Ernie has coached athletes to win All-Ireland gold medals in seven different disciplines with athletes ranging in age from 8 to 18. 15 of his athletes Ernie has coached have between them won over 60 All-Ireland Gold Medals. One of the athletes Ernie coached won a silver medal in the Athens Paralympics Games and a bronze medal in the world Paralympics championship in the previous year.
Sean Naughton – Lifetime Achievement Award
Sean Naughton has made an immense and continuous contribution to Irish athletics for more than half a century at a national & international level. Sean started the Community Games athletics in Nenagh in 1972, his foresight of splitting the town into three areas, resulted in the involvement of an entire community as each child sought to represent their neighbourhood in the town games.
At eighty one years of age Sean remains active in Athletics and is a committee member of Nenagh Olympic Athletic Club and can be regularly seen in the indoor stadium mentoring, encouraging and coaching young athletes and coaches alike.
Peggy Mason – Special Recognition Award
Peggy Mason has dedicated her immense energy and passion to helping individuals, organisations and communities with intellectual disability. Peggy has been a Special Olympics Volunteer since 1985 and set up the South Dublin Gymnastic Club in 1991 with two other parents and the club is still thriving today. Peggy with her daughter Sile set up a Special Olympic Bowling Club in 1998, which has 55 athletes. In addition Peggy provides transport to four Special Olympic athletes to enable them to train with the Bowling Club each week. Peggy has been a volunteer with the Dundrum Arch Club for 35 years which is a social club for people with Intellectual Disabilities that meets every week and caters for adults age 16 . Peggy is a keen Ten Pin bowler and is still competing in the Ladies Leagues.