Volunteers are afforded a well deserved night
Public Participation Network annual awards night hosted by Bellingham Castle
Volunteers from all over the county were honoured at the 2018 PPN awards night in Castlebellingham, their efforts hailed as vital in order to keep community projects running.
Cathaoirleach of the council, Liam Reilly, said that the Louth Volunteer Centre had brought 'volunteering to the forefront' and without them many communities 'would be lost.'
He feels that volunteering inspires 'social awareness' and covers a wide variety of services, from working with older people to youth clubs, sports and animals. His own passion is tidy towns and it was great to see Drogheda, Dundalk, Ardee and Blackrock gain Gold Medals this year.
Louth CC Director of Services Frank Pentony spoke about the 'feel good factor' associated with volunteering and all 15 groups represented on the night were winners. He highlighted the recent Fleadh Cheoil in Drogheda and how people came from Russia to be part of the 1,500 strong team.
'Tonight we honour people who give their time free of charge. It is fantastic that people find the time to do their bit,' he explained.
Drogheda Independent Group Editor John Mulligan said the winners this year were just a reflection of the many who 'do their bit' around the county and he hoped that their success would inspire others to come on board and be part of organisations and groups.
He also mentioned the #JOURNALISM MATTERS campaign which highlights the efforts of local newspapers in their promotion of local news and how important that it is in the community.
'To all the winners, you deserve it, you make Louth and you make us proud.'
Dundalk youth theatre group are just M.A.D.!
It's not too often a youth theatre group attend an awards ceremony and head off with two - never mind one - top award.
But that was the moment enjoyed by Kwasie Boyne and the team at the M.A.D. Youth Theatre, whose work with young people in the region was rewarded on the double.
Their first success came in the Children and Youth section and followed it up in the Arts and Culture.
The group works with young people through drama and the creative arts, providing professionally led weekly drama workshops.
Kwasie always seeks to engage people who might not usually be part of such a group and each year reenact scenes from An Tain.
Jess Myles - Sport
Jess, from Ardee, set up an organisation called 'Keeping Girls in Sport' with the aim of getting more young girls and women involved in sports and fitness.
The idea took off and she has been a guest speaker at events nationwide.
A lot of girls drop out of sport when they reach their teens and she is keen to see that reversed.
A coach at Ardee RFC, she is regarded as a perfect role model for young women in the county.
Lucht Siuil Oga group - Ethnic Minorities
Lucht Siuil is a Traveller led youth club, working with 20 young Travellers each week. They promote different activities, from arts and crafts to team building.
They have their first teenage group and can have their voices heard through networking with Louth Comhairle na Nog and NYCI Youth Voices.
Holly's Horse Haven Centre - Environment and Animals
Holly's Horse Haven is a 24/7 critical care charity which is 100% voluntary.
They have over seven years experience and have performed countless rescues.
They are dedicated to preventing the unnecessary slaughter, abuse and neglect of horses.
As well as rescues, they provide a therapeutic space for many people to heal their traumatic life experiences through caring for horses.
They are the only cross border equine rescue group and were formed in 2007 with the goal of being a dedicated organisation, intent on ending the neglect of horses on the island of Ireland.
Weatherman Gerry Murphy and his proud family links with lovely Reaghstown
As one of the country's best known weathermen, Gerry Murphy knows all about the impact of severe weather when it comes to keeping people safe.
And he was rich in his praise of those that come to the rescue of neighbours when storms strike.
Addressing last week's PPN Awards, he highlighted the community spirit that existed in the Drogheda/ East Meath area when the water shortages of July 2017 took place.
'Volunteers pooled together to help neighbours,' he stated.
Drogheda born Gerry admitted he's pretty proud of his local links.
His mother was from Reaghstown, near Ardee, and he has great memories of his time spent there as a young man.
He grew up in Magheracloone and recalled the special days when he got to go to the biggest local town, Dundalk.
'When I got a little older, I was off to the Fairways and Ridleys,' he continued.
He praised everyone for their efforts when it comes to volunteering. 'Volunteers are passionate about what they do and it's great to get people out to volunteer,' he remarked.
Padraig is real knock-out guy
Former Irish boxing champion Padraig McCullough admitted he was surprised and delighted to be honoured with a special sports award.
Part of the success story at Tredagh Boxing Club, he works with young fighters four nights a week at their base in An Grianan, Termonfeckin.
But like many boxing clubs, they work outside the mainstream fight game to include as many people as possible.
They ran a free eight week healthy body class for over 50s and he has even worked with children with autism on a one to one basis.
'We have 40 in the club and 20 of those are 6 to 10 years old. Patrick Lavery in the Fitness Room in Dunleer works with us and he has even become a Leinster champion himself,' he stated.
'We hope people can learn through boxing and realise that if you put the dedication into anything, you'll get the results.'
He started out his career with Togher BC and won 9 Leinster titles as well as Irish titles, three British titles as well as competing with Dunleer AC, winning a cross country title with them.