25 Years of ‘Pensioner of the Year’

PROUD MAISIE. . . . .Age Concern (Derry) Pensioner of the Year 2011, Maisie Crawford, proudly holds aloft her trophy at her Nelson Drive home. (2211JM40)
PROUD MAISIE. . . . .Age Concern (Derry) Pensioner of the Year 2011, Maisie Crawford, proudly holds aloft her trophy at her Nelson Drive home. (2211JM40)

This year, the ‘Pensioner of the Year Award’ takes on a special significance as it is twenty-five years since it was first introduced as a way of acknowledging the contribution older people make to their communities and society in general.

So as Older People North West, incorporating Age Concern Derry, sift through this year’s nominations before the closing date of November 9, they also remember how it all began.

The Award was first promoted in 1987 and the initial Gala at which the first award was presented was held in what was then the Embassy Ballroom on Strand Road.

The late Jimmy Duffy, of fond memory, who was well-known in the City because of the tremendous contribution that he made to the theatrical, musical and sporting life of the City, was the first popular winner of the Award. The standards that he set has in many ways been the gauge by which ensuing Awards were judged.

In the last twenty-five years many distinguished older people in various fields of life in the City have won the award, all of them making noteworthy contributions in their own unique way to society and to the city in general.

A spokesperson for Older People North west said: “When we speak about older people we are referring to a generation that was born in the depression, a generation that helped to build the welfare state, a generation that endured post war austerity to rear their families and a generation who deserve our gratitude.”

“Older People North West believe that the contribution of older people should be a crucial part of any community’s social and economic life. Too often their experience, their skills, and their talents are ignored and wasted. It was for these reasons that Age Concern, as it was then, initiated the Pensioner of the Year Award to encourage people to look at older age in a different and more positive light. We believe that even in today’s enlightened society there are still negative attitudes towards older age and examples of these are numerous.”

“We believe that this Award is a meaningful way to show to older people that the contributions that many of them have made and are making to their communities and their involvement in so many worth-while projects in the City are recognised and appreciated.”

During the past twenty five years the number of people nominated for the Award continues to increase. Unfortunately there can only be one winner but that is not to say that the efforts of all nominees are not worthy of praise.

People in their communities obviously welcome and recognise the work that older people are doing and that explains why they have been nominated for the Award. Any older person who is nominated, even if they are not successful should justifiably feel encouraged and proud that their efforts have been acknowledged.

Each nomination received is very carefully analysed and assessed by an independent panel of judges with no association with the organisation promoting the event. Making a judgement and selecting a winner is always proves to be a difficult task as the excellence of the nominations is always so high.

To be nominated a person must be over the age of 60 years and living in the Derry City Council Area. Nominations can be made by organisations, groups or individuals. All nominations must be made on a form which is available from Malvern House, Chapel Road (Telephone: 71 347478). The completed form must be received on or before Friday, November 9, 2012.

The following are examples of the involvement that an older person might have in the community and which is worthy of recognition:

- Helping individuals or groups of people who are disadvantaged by age, physical mental disability or illness.

- Helping people who feel lonely or socially excluded to integrate into society.

- Helping their community by contributing to the development or improvement of local facilities

- Helping to improve the environment for the benefit of all.

Helping to campaign or raise funds for worthwhile causes.

- Organising or assisting with projects to help improve the quality of life of older people.

The Award winner will receive the Older people North West Trophy, a state of the art telephone from BT who are the main sponsors of the event. They will also receive a ‘break away,’ for two people courtesy of Hotel Westport.

A spokesperson for the Hotel said: “We are delighted to be associated with older People North West in helping to promote this venture and the winner can be assured of a memorable experience in Westport, where we have many facilities that are specially designed to cater for the over fifty-fives.”

The winner will be announced and the Award presented at a Gala Evening in Malvern house on Thursday, November 15, 2012.

Admission to this event will be by ticket only and these can be obtained at the reception in Malvern House, Chapel Road.

Good luck everyone!