Older people who haven’t rested on their laurels but got up and grabbed some more were celebrated at Belfast City Hall today at the Age-friendly Older Belfast Volunteer Awards.
Belfast High Sheriff, Alderman Lydia Patterson, hosted the prestigious event which recognises the contribution made by those over 60 years old to voluntary and community groups.
The awards have grown in stature each year and for the first time the council introduced five separate award categories, and the Lord Mayor has chosen an overall ‘Best of Belfast’ winner from those category winners.
Alderman Patterson congratulated all nominees and the organisations which they served. “The dedication shown by everyone is heart warming but also a challenge to all of us, young and older, to do more to help organisations like yours with the valuable work you do in reaching out to people of all ages and status.
“Belfast City Council is delighted to be hosting these annual awards. Year on year we have had a growing number of people nominated as recognition of the importance of the awards has also grown. They provide older people with the prominence to highlight that rather than sitting back and taking life easy many continue to work hard and strive to make life better for those in need.
“Today is our way of saying thank you to all of you,” said the High Sheriff
Mary Morrison, Chair of the Greater Belfast Seniors Forum, won Older Volunteer of the Year Award 2014 for her work with the forum, as well as with the Belfast Healthy Ageing Strategic Partnership, Local Commissioning Group, Age Sector Platform, Carers NI and Engage with Age, the charity which nominated her for the awards
Eighty-two year old Raymond Brady, who has volunteered with the Society of St Vincent de Paul since he was 18 years old, was named the ‘Best of Belfast’ volunteer, alongside his Mary Matthews Participation Award.
Besides carrying out home visits Mr Brady has also been a board member of the charity in Northern Ireland and acted as its treasurer as well.
Arts and Culture Award went to James Magee, who volunteers with Lagan Village Youth and Community Group and Dee Street Community Centre.
George Newell, from Lagan Youth and Community Group, who nominated James said: James is a very special person who for his age should be less active, but because of his commitment to enhancing and helping the local community he just can’t resist.”
A group of Back on Track Volunteers - 25 retired teachers who deliver a programme of 1:1 support for children at risk of ‘slipping through the net’ during their early education won the Team Award.
They all volunteer with Sólás and nominator, Anne Cahill, said the dedicated team ensured that “children don’t miss out on the opportunity to reach their full potential.”
Good Buddies who volunteer with Sandy Row Residents Association were awarded the Intergenerational Award. Guests heard that they check vulnerable residents of all ages get a warm breakfast, and forge friendships between the generations.
Anna McEvoy who nominated them said that “their helpfulness and dedication has kept a three-month project going for three years.”