LOCAL people who have gone above and beyond to help their community were the guests of honour at a special reception in Newcastle last week. Recipients for the district’s civic awards were praised for demonstrating outstanding service to the community, making a significant contribution to public life and showing real dedication in helping local residents. A total of 46 individuals and organisations from across Newry, Mourne and Down were welcomed to the special ceremony, held in Newcastle on Wednesday evening, by the chairman of council, Mr Michael Savage.
Describing their efforts as “amazing”, Cllr Savage said the awards were the ideal opportunity to show gratitude to “the fantastic people” who “go above and beyond to improve the lives of others.” Recipients included local women Loretta Gribben, from Dolly’s Brae near Leitrim, and Atticall’s Helene Grant, who set up community first responder units whose highly trained volunteers help seriously ill people and work in tandem with the ambulance service. Guests heard of their “important role” in setting up these organisations in their respective District Electoral Areas (DEAs). “Both their ambition and drive to establish a trained community responders group in their respective areas were founded out of personal tragedies,” Cllr Savage outlined. “They have helped facilitate the provision of a defibrillator and first aid training across Slieve Croob DEA and the Mournes DEA providing vital first aid assistance if the ambulance service is experiencing delays.” While acknowledging that all those who have won awards are “very special people,” Honours for ‘fantastic people who go above Mr Savage took the opportunity to highlight the work of Hilltown pensioner Patrick Morgan, who he said “has a reputation as a community man who is always there to help.” Continued Cllr Savage: “He has helped numerous groups and charities over the years, raising thousands of pounds for each one.” Noting that Mr Morgan is “86 years young”, he said Patrick was awarded with a Community and Voluntary Civic Award “as a token of appreciation from the council for being such an honourable, decent, kind and generous person and leading community spirit right across the district.” Fellow fundraiser, Downpatrick’s Cyril McKinney was also commended for raising money for a variety of charities. “He has devoted his life to helping others, amongst them are the most vulnerable in society. Without question, Cyril goes the extra mile for his community and was a much deserved receiver of a Community and Voluntary Civic Award,” Cllr Savage continued. Other local awardees included Newcastle woman Naomi Herron, who was acknowledged for her advocacy work for disabled citizens, including her campaign to make more parts of the district accessible and suitable for all. Castlewellan’s Terry Cowan, Leanne Molloy and Gareth Keown; Dundrum woman Cathleen Garland and fellow villager Richie Shilliday; Kilcoo’s Seamus Travers; Hilltown man Owen Fegan, and Burren resident Liam O’Rourke; Annalong woman Geraldine Lowry; Ballynahinch’s Karen Patterson; Downpatrick woman Paula Galbraith and Warrenpoint couple Declan and Helen Carvill were also among the recipients as were sisters Lucia and Aoibheann Morgan and Oisin Bradley of Warrenpoint Comhaltas.
Awards fell under various categories, ranging from Arts and Culture, to Enterprise, Human Endeavour, Fundraising and the Community and Voluntary sector. The recipients were: Naomi Herron, Newcastle; for advocacy work for disabled citizens. Leanne Molly, Castlewellan; for her efforts in raising awareness of oesophageal cancer, which she suffered from herself, to help others spot the early signs to enable them to get the help and treatment they require. Loretta Gribben, Dolly’s Brae; for leading the set-up of the Slieve Croob Community Responders Group. Karen Patterson, Ballynahinch; for the “incredible community work” she carries out in her role as chair of Rowallane and Slieve Croob Community Twinning Group. Richie Shilliday, Dundrum; for his “selfless commitment” to community work within Dundrum village. Rev Stephen Smyth, Rector of Kilmore and Inch Parish Church; for his work with The Foodbank in Christ Church, Kilmore. Cyril McKinney, Downpatrick; “for going the extra mile” for his community. Patricia Curran, Ballyhornan; who has been at the forefront of community development in Bishopscourt and Ballyhornan for many years and thanks to her hard work the area has seen the development of the Community Centre. Seamus Travers, Kilcoo; for his fundraising efforts for Marie Curie. Since his first event in 1988 he has raised over £160,000. Newcastle Lions Club; for their community and fundraising efforts. Downpatrick Town Committee; for the work the committee does to support local businesses. Killyleagh Community Association; for the tremendous work it does within its community. Geraldine Lowry, Annalong; who has raised over £100,000 for the Southern Area Hospice and also helps to fundraise for other charities and causes. Paula Galbraith, Downpatrick; who has been instrumental is starting up and running the new Downpatrick Park Run in which up to 150 participants take part every weekend. Gareth Keown, Castlewellan; who has set up soccer training for the local youth and over the years he has established summer schemes for the local youth, giving freely of his time in the evenings and weekends. Warrenpoint Comhaltas members Lucia and Aoibheann Morgan and Oisin Bradley; who were awarded 1st place in a recent over 18 trio competition. Terry Cowan, Castlewellan; a member of Newcastle Comhaltas, who recently won the Newly Composed Song category at the Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann. Cathleen Garland, Dundrum; who is also a member of Newcastle Comhaltas and was also a winner at the Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann. After the awards were presented, Cllr Savage told guests: “These awards give us the opportunity to show our gratitude for the fantastic people in Newry, Mourne and Down who go above and beyond to improve the lives of others. We always receive lots of nominations in respect of outstanding people in our community and it is never an easy task to select who should receive a civic award.” He concluded: “There were so many fantastic stories received, every story was different, every volunteer so appreciated by the person that nominated them. “I am delighted to be able to host this event to highlight the major efforts made by individuals and groups to the betterment of the district and to say thank you for their contribution.”