VOTING NOW OPEN: Derry Journal People of the Year Volunteer of the Year Award

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Voting is now open in the Derry Journal People of the Year Awards ‘Volunteer of the Year’ category.

Sponsored by Alchemy Technology Services the winner of this award will be announced at the People of the Year Awards ceremony in the Waterfoot Hotel on Thursday, September 5.


TEXT – text the code DJ (space) VOL (space) followed by the two digit number of the person you want to vote for and send to: 85100

(EXAMPLE: DJ VOL 01) *Cost per text is 50p

Text line closes at 12 noon on Friday, August 23, 2019

Remember you can text vote as many times as you like.

You can also vote via a coupon available in the Derry Journal.

01 Cruse Bereavement Care Volunteer Team

We all know that grief is a natural human experience. The Cruse Volunteer Bereavement Team and their highly trained volunteers guide a bereaved person through their journey.

Last year their Foyle Area volunteers gave over 5000 hours of support to clients throughout the City and surrounding areas. 430 people benefitted from their support after the death of a parent, partner, child, extended family or a friend.

At Cruse Bereavement Care they are fortunate to have a team of volunteers trained to work with Adults and also with Children and Young People. The age of clients that attends Cruse ranges from four years to 75 and over.

Our City has witnessed many tragic and untimely deaths which have rippled through the community. The dedicated volunteers are always here to provide that much needed support and understanding.

For over thirty years its’ Volunteer Team have provided this vital service. They give so much more than just time; they provide a sanctuary for people at their darkest time, time to grieve the loss of a loved ones, which may not always be possible with the demands of the outside world. They are a credit to the community.

02 Debbie Lamberton, Paul’s Campaign

Debbie Lamberton has spent many hours of hard work with different charities over the past 12 years.

She has always been known for her drive, and until lately, dedicated three years to one local charity in Derry, after the untimely death of her cousin Paul from Sarcoma Cancer. Paul’s Campaign has recently become known and recognised not only throughout Derry and the North West but also in the UK.

One day in the heart of Blackpool she passed a beautiful Children’s Cancer Charity called Donna’s Dream House. After making a few enquiries on how this charity came about, she met the owners, who’d built the beautiful building in memory of their daughter Donna who sadly passed away at a young age, to see if they could all work together.. From this the two charities branched together and now offer sick children from Derry a free holiday with some much needed respite for their families, with Paul’s Campaign paying their flights and contributing spending money.

Recently, Debbie had to step down from Paul’s Campaign for health reasons, but still works closely with other charities when possible. She is one of the most kindest people with a heart of gold and one of Derry’s unsung heroes.

03 Lorna O’Hara - Innovation Recovery College

Lorna O’Hara has worked tirelessly to promote the mental health of others and create a sense of community for those with mental health problems experiencing social isolation. Lorna has volunteered at countless workshops delivered by the Innovation Recovery College and is the driving force behind the Recovery Cafe in the city. Lorna goes the extra mile, meeting newcomers to the cafe from the bus, speaking with others who arrive alone, the whole time using her experiences of mental health problems to support and encourage others. Lorna is such an amazingly kind and modest lady who gives so much of her time to our project and we wanted to recognise this by nominating her.

04 Pat Carlin - Foyle Search & Rescue

Pat Carlin, Emergency Medical Technician for Foyle Search & Rescue has been a devoted volunteer for the past seven years.

He works selflessly day after day under the radar attending the needs of others. His goal is to ultimately save countless lives through unimaginable events whilst maintaining their dignity and remaining composed for those in their most critical time of need.

He voluntarily gives hours and hours searching every stretch of the River Foyle for those that couldn’t be reached in time or quietly exited this world in a dark place. He recovers the bodies of those that were missing and then assists all the families in their darkest hour. His beeper is never off, no job is too big or too small for his assistance and his years of previous service in the Irish Dept of Defence Military Police has enabled him to cope with unimaginable trauma and situations 24/7. He is a true hero and theres no-one quite like him and his supportive family.

05 Pat Doran - Foyle Food Bank

Pat Doran has been an outstanding volunteer ever since the Foyle Food Bank began just over three years ago.

He gives a minimum of four hours every Monday, Wednesday and Friday and seldom ever misses a shift.

He is recognized by the rest of the volunteer team and the Management Board as a natural leader; he is kind and courteous with everyone, willing to work the extra days and shifts needed right up until we close on Christmas Eve, often providing cover for volunteers who need to attend to their own families.

Pat is involved in overseeing and supervising the collection, receiving and safe storage of tonnes of food donated by the people of the North West.

Pat demonstrates a kind manner to clients that helps put them at ease, whilst preserving their dignity. He is driven by a desire to help those in need and also represents the Food Bank when we are asked to visit with schools, colleges and workplaces.

Without volunteers like Pat, the Foyle Food Bank would find difficulty getting the 20 tonnes of food distributed to the 3,467 clients who needed our help last year.

“I don’t think we could ever really thank Pat enough for the immense commitment, time and dedication he constantly brings to his role at the Food Bank,” said a spokesperson for Foyle Food Bank.

06 Deirdre Cassidy & Lisa Storey

These two women, inspired by the many nights they spent at their sick child’s bedside in Ward 6 of Altnagelvin Hospital, set about trying to improve the experience for families who are ‘frequent flyers’ on the ward.

They set up the Altnagelvin Parents Support Group and sent out an open invitation to all the parents of children with open access to join the group and have an input into what could improve the ward.

Lisa and Deirdre set themselves the mammoth task of getting specialist beds for the parents and through a fundraising drive got people to sponsor a bed.

They raised over £20,000 in an incredibly short space of time and all the beds were handed over to the ward at an emotional ceremony earlier this year,

The group has not only improved things for parents but also for the children. They appealed for donations of electronic items, DVDs and games and the ward was inundated with them.

They also installed bravery buckets for each child to get a small gift after they get bloods done or other small procedures.

The group is also in the process of renovating clinic rooms and the waiting area in the paediatric outpatient department and hold parties for the children and their parents at least once a year.