OVER 120 guests and 12 monthly award winners gathered in the Celtic Ross Hotel for the inaugural West Cork Hero Awards gala celebration, organised in association with The Southern Star and the hotel last Friday afternoon.
The awards were set up in early 2016 to give recognition to those throughout West Cork who give selflessly of their time and efforts in an attempt to help and improve the lives of those around them.
Ranging in age from early teens to over 80 and from all walks of life, the monthly winners were chosen by a panel of judges from a huge number of nominees put forward by readers of The Southern Star during 2016.
Guest of honour John Lonergan presented the overall award of West Cork Hero 2016 to retired garda Michael O’Sullivan from Rosscarbery in recognition of over 40 years of dedication and voluntary service to his community.
In his acceptance speech, Mr O’Sullivan congratulated all the other monthly winners and emphasised the importance of community spirit and values, especially in an age when technology plays such a big part in people’s lives.
Special merit awards were presented to two teenagers – Donagh O’Sullivan from Glengarriff (carer for his autistic brother) and Cian O’Donovan from Ballinhassig (who saved his brother from drowning).
Addressing all of the award winners together, John Lonergan said: ‘It’s about the satisfaction of knowing that you are making a difference to other people’s lives. Nobody is here because they were expecting an award – and the award is one hundred times better because you didn’t expect it. Giving generously, without expectation, that’s the secret. Give generously, don’t have any expectation, and know in your heart that you’re making a difference.’
• Monthly nominations are now being accepted for the West Cork Hero Awards 2017 – see nomination form below.