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Thursday 18 September 2014

New Oak activist Sharon is up for volunteer award

SHARON PARKER BYRNE SHORTLISTED

LYNDA CONNOLLY

Published 27/11/2012 | 10:36

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Sharon Parker Byrne, chairwoman of New Oak Community Centre.

A COMMUNITY activist in one of Carlow's oldest estates has been shortlisted from hundreds of entries in the Volunteer Ireland Awards.

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Sharon Parker Byrne, who is chairwoman of the New Oak Community Centre in Carlow Town, has been shortlisted in the Community category of the awards. She is one of 31 volunteers who have beenshortlisted for the annual awards, which celebrate and recognise volunteers across Ireland.

Sharon has played a lead role in making improvements to her estate, including cleaning up, fundraising and running an after-school activity club, which had 30 children in its first week.

She campaigned for the community centre, which first opened its doors in 2006. It has gone from strength to strength since then. Every day of the week, the centre hosts activities such as bingo, an after-school service and dance classes. The centre serves the residents of one of Carlow's oldest estates: New Oak is 34 years old, with 188 houses.

An overall winner and category winners in the Panadol-supported initiative will be announced on Wednesday, December 5, at a gala event in Dublin hosted by RTÉ's Claire Byrne.

Yvonne McKenna, Volunteer Ireland chief executive, congratulated Sharon on making the shortlist and said this year Volunteer Ireland had received the largest number of nominations ever. In the last two and a half years Volunteer Ireland and local volunteer centres have registered 34,107 volunteers, 4,173 volunteer-involving groups and 15,343 vacancies. 1,037,069 hours were contributed by volunteers, with a value to the economy of €22.7m.

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