Exiles Forum

Lisburn, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland



Lisburn's unsung heroes honoured at a gala ceremony

At the "Mayor's Award for Volunteering" ceremony are the award nominees US1707-409PM Pic by Paul Murphy

LISBURN celebrated the efforts of the city's unsung heroes at a gala dinner and awards ceremony last week when the Mayor's Award for Volunteering was held in Lagan Valley Island.

The event, comp´┐Żred by Nuala McKeever, was attended by almost 60 volunteers who were nominated by members of public for their contribution to the local community.

The Group Volunteer of the Year award was won by Youth Initiatives Service Team in recognition of the diverse range of volunteering opportunities they provide and the support structure they have in place for the volunteers.

The Adult Volunteer of the Year award went to Henry Phillips for his contribution to local community development. Henry has dedicated an astounding 50 years to volunteering and is instrumental in organising various cross-community events and festivals. He has supported and developed organisations such as Lisburn Community Forum, Glenavy Development Partnership and many more.

The Young Volunteer of the Year award went to Conor McCarthy who volunteers within the Sally Gardens Community Centre. Conor has worked among other volunteers to help, support and raise awareness of community issues and to create positive alternatives to anti-social behaviour.

During the evening, graduates from the Lisburn City Council and Northern Ireland Tenants Action Project Community Capacity Building Course were also presented with their course certificates.

The Mayor Councillor Trevor Lunn congratulated all of the nominees:

"Volunteering is such an important part of building and sustaining communities within our City, and tonight we are recognising and expressing our appreciation of the diverse range of activities and opportunities that all our nominees are currently involved in" he said.

"This event has not only helped showcase the work of volunteers, it has also provided an opportunity for volunteers to link with other groups, share ideas and network."

Proud winners delighted with awards

ADULT Volunteer of the Year winner Henry Phillips said he was amazed to be chosen. "I'm absolutely flabbergasted, I wasn' expecting it at all," the long-serving commu nity worker said. "The award was a complete surprise." Henry, who has been a volunteer for 50 years, was honoured for his community work with the Lisburn Community Forum and the Glenavy Development Partnership amongst others.

Lisburn Mayor Councillor Trevor Lunn presenting the Adult Volunteer of the Year Award for 2007 to Henry Phillips for 50 years service in the local community,Young Volunteer of the Year Conor McCarthy,Sally Gardens Community Centre, Polegless and Group Volunteer of The Year Youth Services Iniatives Team Debbie Byrne with compere Nuala McKeever.

He said, "I see the award as being an award for the groups I've been working with. The Lisburn Community Forum and the Glenavy Development Partnership have been great with the help and assistance I get from all the people who attend, this wouldn't have been possible without the other officers and members."

He continued, "I think it is a great idea to have this dinner - I was impressed there were so many young people involved in volunteering, that was one of the highlights for me. I hope the awards encourage other people to become involved."

The Young Volunteer of the Year winner also said he was delighted to have been chosen. 16-year-old Conor McCarthy, who is a volunteer at the Sally Gardens Community Centre commented, "I've been a volunteer for nearly a year helping out with the kids, I just wanted to help within the community." Colin Fanning, Project Co-ordinator with Youth Initiatives, the Group Volunteer of the Year 2007 award winners said everyone involved with the group is thrilled with the award.

"It's fantastic," he said, "This is the second year we've been in the running but we had no idea we'd get close.

"We've just got sponsorship from the Department for Social Development to fund our volunteer development work, on top of this its been an amazing year for our volunteers. This is great recognition for our volunteers, we now have over 60 of them who are giving up their time every week, we're delighted."

Ulster Star