THE first two monthly winners in the inaugural Southern Star Celtic Ross West Cork Hero awards were presented with their trophies at a special celebratory lunch in the Celtic Ross Hotel in Rosscarbery last Friday.
January winner Nellie Cotter from Schull, was joined by February winners Sally and Donal Daly from Skibbereen as they were named the first of twelve monthly winners for 2016.
The awards were launched recently to pay tribute to the hard-working people of West Cork who may not otherwise be recognised for their contributions to society.
Presenting the awards, Southern Star community and lifestyle editor Niall O’Driscoll said that ‘a West Cork Hero might be a tireless community worker or a frontline emergency responder, a young person demonstrating maturity beyond their years, or someone who has given a lifetime to their community.’
He added that it could be a local group or business, a carer or family member, or perhaps someone who has simply gone above and beyond the call of duty in a time of crisis.
‘These everyday heroes are found throughout West Cork, but they so often lack recognition and thanks. In many cases they shy away from the spotlight.
‘However, we in The Southern Star and the Celtic Ross feel it’s time to acknowledge the impact these people are making in their communities and the positive, inspirational effect they are having on the lives of those around them,’ he continued.
Neil Grant, general manager of the Celtic Ross Hotel, and a member of the judging panel (along with Niall O’Driscoll and Patsy Puttnam), described the adjudication process as ‘humbling’ and said how they had been delighted with the number of nominations received for the awards to date.
Nellie Cotter, who won the award for her work through the Little Way charity shop in Schull, thanked the organisers and also her nominators Jonathan McCarthy and Nora Minihane.
‘I love what I do and it gives me great pleasure helping other people,’ she said, as she accepted her award from Patsy Puttnam.
Sally Daly, who accepted the award on behalf of her husband and herself, thanked the organisers for recognising the work of her annual Christmas shoebox collection, in particular.
The Dalys were nominated by Geraldine Sheehy and Patsy O’Mahony, who were also at the lunch. She said it was a ‘very humbling experience’ to receive the award, adding: ‘We just do what we do, we are just ordinary people. We just want to do something to make other people’s lives a bit easier.’
She took the opportunity to remind people that she collects items for her shoeboxes throughout the year, as there were 5,000 boxes to fill last year.
She also encouraged the public to support Clonakilty teacher Carmel Nic Airt’s plea for items to bring, via truck, to refugees in Greece. This was another very good cause, Sally said.