Top award for Derry Sustrans volunteer

Monica Downey.
Monica Downey.

A Derry woman has won an award for her commitment to walking and cycling by volunteering for the charity Sustrans.

Monica Downey has been awarded the Sustrans Volunteer Award in Northern Ireland for her hard work, enthusiasm and commitment to Sustrans.

Monica has been volunteering with Sustrans for six years, during which she has provided cycle training and supported events such as Bike Week and the Lullaby and Sound of Light rides in Derry.

She works as the crèche co-ordinator for Derry Well Women, the health and wellbeing centre. Through her day job she got involved in cycling and then became a cycling trainer herself. She has provided cycle training, both paid and voluntarily, for a whole range of people from the young and senior citizens to people with learning difficulties.

“I really enjoy volunteering because I like working with people,” she said. “Cycle training does require a lot of patience because some people are totally unused to cycling but it is great to see people enjoying it as much as me.”

Sustrans relies on the support of 4,000 volunteers like Monica across the UK to increase the reach and impact of the charity’s work.

Sustrans’ volunteers carry out a variety of activities from maintaining the National Cycle Network by improving signage and clearing vegetation, running stalls at events, and organising walks and cycle rides for communities, schools and workplaces.

Malcolm Shepherd, Sustrans Chief Executive, said: “The contribution that our volunteers make toward our work is incomparable. The time our volunteers dedicate to Sustrans makes a huge difference, encouraging even more people in schools, universities and local communities to travel actively, and helps Sustrans to reach even more people across the country.

“I’d like to give a special thanks to Monica Downey for all her support, and hope that she will inspire many more to volunteer with Sustrans in the future.”

Monica added: “I have gained so much from volunteering, it definitely goes each way,” said Monica who is now in her sixth year as a volunteer. “If you give something of your time and yourself, you definitely get something back.”

A total of 13 Volunteer Awards were handed out, including 12 individual volunteers from each region and nation, and an overall group winner.