Monday 21 October 2019

Extraordinary people honoured

Louth PPN Community & Voluntary Awards

Margaret Roddy

An extraordinary bunch of people who go out of their way to make their communities better were recognised at the 2019 PPN awards in Bellingham Castle last Wednesday (25th).

Volunteers from throughout the county enjoyed their moment in the spotlight at the awards which highlight the important role played by volunteers across a wide range of categories.

The chairperson of Louth County Council, Cllr Liam Reilly praised the work done by all the volunteers in the county, noting that they make up 28.5% of the population, and that 65% of volunteers are aged 45 years and over.

He congratulated all the winners, saying that the PPN was a 'fantastic story', citing Drogheda's hosting of the Fleadh Cheoil as an example of what volunteers can achieve.

Louth County Council Chief Executive Joan Martin said that 'the night is about the people up for the awards', praising their commitment in giving to their community. She also noted the benefits which volunteering brings to volunteers, who themselves can get personal satisfaction from fully contributing to society.

'This county, this country, and the world couldn't survive without volunteers,' she said, pointing to the work being done in Dromiskin as an example of a group who were doing work which the county council couldn't.

She also praised those young people present for 'doing fantastic things' and urged all the volunteers to keep up the good work.

Speaking on behalf of the Argus and Drogheda Independent, John Savage said that the nominees were 'the real champions and hereos of our community', whose volunteering was making a difference to where we live.

Adam Harris, founder and CEO of AsIAm, gave an inspirational speech about growing up with Autism and how getting involved in his local community in Greystones had helped him . He stressed the importance of being engaged in the community as it can bring about positive change.

He explained how he had set up AsIAm give years ago and how he wants to make Ireland the most Autism friendly country in the world, so that it's a place that people with Autism can fully participate in and reach their personal potential.

He spoke of the challenges faced by people with Autism, how 50% of them experience bullying, how people with Autism are nine times more likely to die from suicide and how their life expectancy is 16 years shorter than their peers.

Adam also outlined initiatives such as the roll out of Autisim friendly towns which are taking place.

He said he was delighted to see so many people from diverse backgrounds at the awards ceremony, remarking that the only way to bring about inclusion is by bringing people together.

And he noted that volunteering isn't just about fund-raising but about taking leadership and changing attitudes.

Drogheda Independent