THE cheers were long and loud and they were very much deserved.
Recovery Haven is the 2013 Kerry Community Awards winner and as the name was read out at The Dromhall Hotel in Killarney on Sunday afternoon, the reaction was spontaneous.
The Tralee-based cancer support service has been a godsend to over 350 people affected by cancer and there was a mutual nod of agreement from the many nominees who had gathered this year to celebrate Kerry's unrivalled spirit of volunteerism.
For Recovery Haven manager, Siobhan McSweeney, the initial reaction was one of shock but as she gathered her thoughts following the impressive ceremony, she praised the dozens of people who have been key to the development of the vital service.
"I couldn't believe it when our name was read out - we're absolutely thrilled and delighted for everyone involved," an out-of-breath Siobhan said.
"Recovery Haven opened two-and-a-half years ago but even before that it took a lot of volunteers and a lot of dreams to get it together and I suppose to get an award today makes all the hard work, time and effort put into it worthwhile.
"It is a massive collaboration of people. We have two part-time staff and others are seconded through the employment scheme but everyone else is voluntary. You are talking about 70-plus volunteers, between the listeners who greet people when they come in the door, the therapists who deliver all the treatments and all the fundraisers who work so hard," Siobhan added.
Located at 5 Haig's Terrace, close to Manor West and Kerry General Hospital, Recovery Haven opened its doors in September 2010. It's affiliated to the Irish Cancer Society and provides psychological and social support for those living with cancer, their families and carers.
Recovery Haven serves the needs of Kerry people and others who may be beyond the county bounds, providing an outreach service as well. Today (Wednesday) for instance, there's an outreach service in Portmagee.
And when this year's judges visited the service, they found a comfortable, tranquil living space, a second home removed from the turmoil of the outside world which is so important for cancer sufferers of all stages.
"The thing about Recovery Haven is that we provide support straight from diagnosis to either cure and getting back on track or, for others, unfortunately, it's dealing with bereavement," she added.
Plans for a support house for Kerry are more than 15 years old and can be traced back to a call by Breast Care Nurse Marian Barnes in Kerry General who highlighted a deficiency in services following diagnosis. Initially aimed specifically at breast cancer patients, it is now open for all cancer sufferers.
Impressively, it's a service that is run on a shoestring and is almost totally dependant on fundraising and Siobhan said the €5,000 prize money would certainly be put to good use.
"We have minimal State funding so it's all going towards keeping the services going and developing new services - for instance, before Christmas we started a Gynae-Cancer Support Group and are moving into other areas as well," she said.
Recovery Haven is open four days a week - Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 10am to 4pm and Thursdays between 10am and 7pm. Call 066 7192122 in confidence.