Local Volunteers to Be Honoured At National Awards Ceremony


Dublin City Volunteer Centre is delighted to announce the shortlist for the twelfth annual Volunteer Ireland Awards. Over 1 million people in Ireland volunteer and these awards aim to celebrate the hard work and dedication of volunteers across the country.

Aged 10 to 80 from sixteen counties, this year’s shortlist is a showcase of the breadth and depth of volunteering in Ireland. From mental health to sport to homelessness, volunteers have an invaluable impact on communities across Ireland every day. Padraig Allen, Azeez Yusuff and the group of volunteers at Victim Support at Court (V-SAC) are all representing Dublin City on the shortlist.

Padraig Allen has volunteered with St John Ambulance for over 20 years and felt impassioned to preserve and catalogue the organisations heritage and bring it back to life. Between work and family commitments he managed to spend up to 12hrs+ per week often from dawn to dusk in a dusty basement at head office cataloguing the precious material he discovered. He regularly updates a blog with stories of past members of the organisation who have contributed so much to Irish society. He has formed links between irish and international historians sharing information as far as Canada and Australia. He often gives up his time to meet relatives of deceased members to shine a light on an old photo they might have of their relative or a medal in their possession.

Azeez Yusuff is a remarkable young man who has emerged from the Asylum Process to become a Sports Coach and a Youth Leader on three programmes of the NGO Charity,  Sport Against Racism Ireland. As a ‘Refugee in Waiting’ in the asylum process, with no English on his arrival in the Irish Republic, he struggled against racism and Islamophobia and was supported nurtured through the coaching and youth ranks of SARI to become Head Sports Coach of the organisation.

The young Nigerian born footballer has made a major impact on the unaccompanied minors on Soccernites, working with young boys many of whom have been trafficked into the country from conflict zones. In this key volunteer role, given his own background, he shows great empathy with his young charges and places the duty of care of the vulnerable youngsters by prioritising their physical and mental health welfare and engaging them in an employability programme.

Victim Support at Court (V-SAC) is the only voluntary organisation in Ireland that is dedicated solely to providing court accompaniment to victims of crime and prosecution witnesses when they are attending court. V-SAC trained volunteers accompany victims to court, give practical advice and access to a private area within the courthouse away from the general public. They support victims of all types of crime, their family and friends and witnesses when they are attending court.

V-SAC supported 1,365 people in 2018, an increase of 27% since 2016 and on the busiest day in Dublin alone, 96 people received support across 17 cases. Irrespective of the outcome of their case, victims were so appreciative for the support provided as well as inundating the group with thank you cards. The victim support area is often referred to as a ‘sanctuary’ or a ‘safe haven’ because of the informal and friendly atmosphere the volunteers provide.

According to Dublin City Volunteer Centre Acting Manager Franzi O’Donnell “I’d like to congratulate all the nominees for being shortlisted in this year’s Volunteer Ireland Awards. Each year I am blown away by the breadth and diversity of volunteering across Ireland. So many people go above and beyond because they care and they want to make a difference. These awards are a chance not just to say thank you to these extraordinary people but also to share their stories and shine a light on the extraordinary work that goes on in communities across Ireland every day.”

This year the Volunteer Ireland Awards have partnered with the Department of Rural and Community Development and Healthy Ireland, who both share an ethos of volunteering contributing to healthy, vibrant communities.

Minister Seán Canney, Minister of State for Community Development, Natural Resources and Digital Development said “I am delighted that, through my Department, the Government actively encourages and supports the valuable contribution volunteers make to our society. Without their selfless contribution of time and energy, much of what we take for granted in terms of our society would not happen. Volunteers make a significant impact across many areas of society, including raising awareness of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. Without active volunteers, communities cannot flourish.”

According to Kate O’Flaherty, Head of Health and Wellbeing, Department of Health, “Volunteering has a critical part to play in supporting healthy, sustainable communities. Not only for the positive impact on the health and wellbeing of volunteers themselves but for the impact their collective contribution has on our communities. We are delighted to partner with the Volunteer Ireland Awards again this year and are particularly pleased to see so many nominees in the health and wellbeing space.”

The twelfth Volunteer Ireland Awards take place on Friday 6th December in the Carlton Hotel, Blanchardstown, Dublin 15. Shortlisted nominess along with their family and friends will be treated to a night of celebration where announce the winners in each category will be announced and Ireland’s Volunteer of the Year for 2019 will be named.


For more information contact Amy Woods, Communications and Advocacy Manager at Volunteer Ireland – amy@volunteer.ie / 01 636 9446 / 085 717 9261 or Kristin Kristjansdottir, Placement Officer at Dublin City Volunteer Centre – kristin@volunteerdublincity.ie or 01 4737483.

Notes to Editor

Volunteer Ireland Awards Shortlist 2019

Animals & Environment

  • Lynn & Michael Christianson, Autism Assistance Dogs Ireland, Limerick
  • Annie King, WWOOF Ireland, Cork
  • Andy O’Dowd, Longford Tidy Towns, Longford

Arts, Culture & Media

  • Orla Brannigan, Comhaltas Drogheda, Louth
  • Aaron Duffy, Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann, Louth
  • John Paul Payne, Carlow Pride Festival, Carlow

Campaigning & Awareness Raising

  • Liz Collins, DEBRA Ireland, Dublin
  • Lexie Delaney, Inner City Helping Homeless and North Dublin Bay Housing Crisis Community, Dublin
  • John Fox, Pieta House and Tallaght Athletics Club, Dublin


  • Patricia Keane, Various Organisations, Galway
  • Eddie Phelan, Various Organisations, Louth
  • Ken Smollen, Ken Smollen Food Appeal, Offaly

Children & Youth

  • Sandra Maguire, Coder Dojo, Dublin
  • Patrick Mills, Solas Project Justice Team, Dublin
  • Mick Whelan, Foróige, Tipperary

Health & Disability

  • Eric Beggs, Fighting Blindness, Louth
  • Gertrude Howley, GROW in Ireland, Waterford
  • Robin Winkels, Row to Recovery, Galway

Safety & Emergency Services

  • Padraig Allen, St John Ambulance, Dublin
  • Frank Heidtke, Dingle Coast Guard, Kerry
  • James Lafferty, Irish Red Cross, Clare

Social Work & Social Inclusion

  • Liz Davey, Inner City Helping Homeless, Belfast and Dublin
  • Marian Merrick, Croí na Gaillimhe, Galway
  • Owodunni Mustapha, Social Inclusion and Supports to Asylum Seekers, Mayo

Sports & Recreation

  • Aideen Dowling, Special Olympics Leinster, Kildare
  • Martin Quinn, Canon Hayes Recreation Centre, Tipperary
  • Azeez Yusuff, Sport Against Racism Ireland, Dublin

Volunteer Manager

  • Andy Cullen, Husky Rescue Ireland, Laois
  • Gerry Maguire, Reserve Defence Forces, Laois
  • Nicola Sandgrove Coss, All Abilities, Laois

Outstanding Group

  • Dún na Sí Amenity and Heritage Park, Westmeath
  • Irish Red Cross – Tralee Branch, Kerry
  • Victim Support At Court, Dubli