herald

Monday 18 December 2017

Hail the heroes as Spirit Awards pay tribute to community groups

Charity, compassion, and voluntary endeavour were rewarded with special grants from the Dublin Bus Community Spirit Awards last night.

Five local 'community hero' groups received the top awards of €5,000 each among 86 charities and groups at the Mansion House event. The funds came from unclaimed bus fare change.

A major winner, The Laura Brennan Charitable Trust, has helped 50 children with life threatening illnesses, and their families, since it was set up in 2008. The trust was set up by Patrick and Nuala Brennan of Malahide who lost their 16-year-old daughter Laura who died when a bacterial pneumonia illness rapidly worsened.

"It happened so quickly. One day she was playing basketball for Killester and the next day she became ill," said her mother Nuala (49). "Laura loved children and wanted to be a teacher."

Patrick (50) said the family were glad other sick children and their families were being helped in Laura's name.

Some €150,000 has been given to the families by the foundation over the years to help with respite care, therapies, and travel costs for treatment abroad.

The Nurture organisation received €5,000 for its work in providing rapid access counselling for women who develop mental health problems as a result of pregnancy or post-natal problems. It was founded by counsellor Irene Lowry in 2011 who was aware of two mothers who took their own lives.

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Teresa Comiskey (49) of Nurture said it is vital to respond quickly when women develop serious depression rather than putting them on a long waiting list for help. Nuture has helped 700 women in 16 counties so far through fast access to affordable counselling.

Baldoyle Boxing Club was a top prize winner for its work with 50 local young people, including 20 girls.

"Katie Taylor's win led to a flood of girls joining and they are the most committed members," club secretary Ronan Kelly (34) said.

The Musical Youth Federation received a €2,000 grant for its work providing inner-city children with musical lessons and music education.

Federation founder and chief executive Chris Maher (39) said more than 100 children each year receive lessons on guitar and singing education.

"The children really blossom as a result and those who might have left school early remain in school because their confidence has been boosted," he said.

Other €5,000 winners were the Sticks and Stones anti-bullying programme who work in six disadvantaged schools and Age Action which is giving older housebound people computer training which allows them a better level of personal freedom.

aokeeffe@herald.ie

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