Local couple Arthur and Deborah Carr received the prestigious Christine Buckley Volunteer of the Year Award 2020 for their outstanding work with Claddagh Watch Patrol and Galway East Life Support.
The pair were announced as the latest winners live on RTE radio when Ryan Tubridy surprised the couple announcing that they had won ,during an interview. The unexpected award served as a valuable reward for them and their volunteers' recent activity and achievements.
The Claddagh Watch was set up in January 2019 after five people tragically lost their lives to the Galway river in one week. The group attempts to prevent death by accident or suicide in the canals, rivers, and seas of Galway City.
Together the couple have trained almost 100 volunteers from all sorts of different backgrounds for the Claddagh Watch patrol and there is not a week where the couple are not involved in the patrol venturing out and surveying the bridges and waterways of Galway City along with the other volunteers going out multiple times a week. Simultaneously fundraising for the vital equipment that is needed to assist the volunteers in their patrols and securing a base for the crew to operate.
Along with the Claddagh watch, the couple also run a mental health support line Galway East Life Support formed in 2013 with four pillars of Education, Prevention, Awareness and Support. Over the past seven years the GELS centre located in Cullen’s Yard offer training courses, community talks and support.
GELS helpline 0851237878 remains open with 75 calls being answered in 2020. Before Covid-19 the centre was open 3 days a week and all were available to call in for advice or information post restrictions the group will facilitate weekly meetings hosting in the Men’s Shed on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, Gamblers Anonymous on Tuesday at 8:30pm, a weekly two art groups, a ME/Fibromyalgia support group.
To finance the operation GELS also have a charity shop named ‘A New & Slightly Used’ stocked with clothing, shoes, gifts, books and more stock located on the second floor of their building with plans to open the store two weekends a month.
The couple has been recognised in their voluntary efforts before with Galway East Life Support being the proud winners at the Ballinasloe Mayor Awards of the Award for Social & Community Support in 2014. Arthur was then presented with the Social & Community Support Award at the 2015 Ballinasloe Credit Union People of the Year Awards. In 2016 Arthur scooped up Volunteer of the Year for Galway at the Cathaoirleach Community Awards and Deborah was nominated in the Social, Community & Civic Pride category for the 2017 Credit Union People of the Year Awards.
The Christine Buckley Award comes with no less pleasure and even better they were completely unaware to the fact that they were even up for the award, in what was an early Christmas present live on RTE Radio Ryan presented them with a giant cheque of €1,000 for the two charities and they were also presented with an engraved trophy, some complimentary tickets to the EPIC Museum of Irish Emigration in Dublin, a painting of the Long Walk in Galway, and a framed letter from the country’s president Michael D. Higgins.
Arthur and Deborah hope it will bring further attention to their cause and bring further financial support to their organisations.
CEO of Volunteer Ireland Nina Arwitz said: “Arthur and Deborah embody everything about the true volunteering spirit. They have a clear passion for helping others and dedicate so much of their free time to supporting those in crisis.”
Commenting after winning the award, Deborah exclaimed: “Arthur and I would like to thank everyone that has: phoned, messaged, posted liked and shared and congratulated us. The Volunteer Ireland Safety & Emergency Skills award was unexpected. We had thought that perhaps Claddagh Watch would get a nomination, which it did but we never considered ourselves Then the Christine Buckley Volunteer of the Year award completely blew us both away. Our feet have yet to touch the ground. Whilst our names are on the 2 awards they belong to every volunteer, board member, sponsor, donor and cheerleader past and present that are or have ever been involved with both Claddagh Watch Patrol and GELS without them nothing would have been achieved.”
Over the latest Lockdown, Claddagh Watch Patrol and Galway East Life Support are still active and ready to support whoever is in need. Volunteers that come from every background are dedicated to the cause and have been of help to save many lives since the organisations beginning.
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