South East Radio / Talbot Hotel Person of the Month Awards
March 2010 / February 2011
The Overall Winner for the 2011 Person of the Month Awards was Shay Kinsella
Pictures taken by Jim Campbell Photography
Shay Kinsella – who was nominated in February 2010
Share a Dream Foundation, now in its 21st year, was founded by Shay Kinsella after meeting a beautiful 7 year old girl who had Leukaemia. Seeing what this little girl and her family were going through was heart wrenching for Shay. He wondered if she had ever done anything special in her short young life and when he was told her greatest dream was to go to Disneyland, Shay set about making her dream come true. Unfortunately this little girl didn’t live to have her dream come through but many children and their families have enjoyed a wonderful treat with thanks to the fantastic work done by this voluntary organization.
The Share a Dream Foundation move heaven and earth to make a dream come true for a child who is terminally ill. Every effort is made to include the immediate family in the child’s dream. They help to make the seemingly impossible become possible.
Every year hundreds of requests are received from sick and disabled children across both sides of the border to go on a special holiday, go to a concert or on an outing and enjoy a little quality time away from hospitals and painful treatments. Share a Dream spearheaded by Shay organize a family break for hundreds of special children.
Each year, Share a Dream Foundation honours eight special children by hosting the National Children of Courage Awards at its Annual Dream Ball. These children who have shown extraordinary courage and unbelievable determination to live life to the very best of their ability despite their serious illness or disability are chosen from hundreds of nominations received from around the country.
Profiles of Nominees for Person of the Month
March- Damien Fitzhenry
Damien Fitzhenry born 5 July 1974 in Enniscorthy, Co Wexford is a retired hurler. He plays hurling and football his local club Duffry Rovers and was a member of the Wexford senior inter-county hurling team from 1993 until 2010. Fitzhenry is widely regarded as Wexford’s greatest ever goalkeeper.
The Fitzhenry name has been associated with the Duffry Rovers club since the 1970s. Damien, the youngest of fifteen children, currently plays his club hurling and football with ‘the Rovers’ and is following in the footsteps of his brothers and his sisters. Fitzhenry joined the senior ranks of the club in late 1991 and shared in the club’s famous run of seven County football titles in-a-row between 1986 and 1992.
Fitzhenry first came to prominence in early 1992 when he joined the Wexford minor hurling panel. In early 1993 Fitzhenry made his senior debut in the National Hurling League quarter-final against Westmeath.
1996 saw Fitzhenry achieve his first senior Leinster title and Wexford’s first since 1977. The Wexford team went on to beat Limerick to achieve Fitzhenry’s first All Ireland medal and Wexford’s first since 1968.
In 1997 Fitzhenry was recognised as the best goalkeeper of the championship and was presented with his first All Star award, his second in 2004 and again in 2007.
Fitzhenry confirmed on February 15, 2010 his retirement from inter-county hurling after serving 17 years in the panel.
April- Frank Flanagan
Frank Flanagan, a fisherman from Wexford Town started an internet campaign to reverse the government’s decision to end the 24/7 Coastguard helicopter cover. 24,000 people supported the cause by joining his facebook campaign to save the life-saving service.
It was imperative to stop signing of the government contract as once signed it would become a legally binding document. The contract would have run from 2013 to 2023 if it had come into effect ensuring that no new government could have reversed the decision before that time.
Helicopter cover is very reassuring to fisherman and to the public in general and to lose such a vital service would have had wide reaching consequences. For example on January 6th, a 36-hour-old baby was taken to Dublin in the middle of the night by helicopter. There was no doubt in Frank’s mind that the removal of this service would have cost lives in the South East.
Frank was overwhelmed by the response received and his initiative helped keep the vital service enjoyed by those in the South East in situ. (Ref Echo newspaper).
May – Tommy Redmond (unable to attend on the night of awards)
Tommy Redmond hails from Camolin in Co Wexford. In 2000 Tommy was registered blind resulting from diabetes. Since then he has worked tirelessly to raise funds for the National Council for the blind. He has raised over a whopping €20,000 to date. In one event alone in 2009 he liaised with the Houses of Story Telling to raise a staggering €7,000.
NCBI is a not for profit charitable organisation which provides support and services nationwide to people experiencing sight loss. They also provide a range of services to public and private organisations to make sure that their services are accessible to people who are blind and vision impaired.
NCBI is celebrating a phenomenal 80 years of providing vital services to people living with sight loss. About 5 per cent of people using NCBI services are completely blind, while 95 per cent have varying degrees of usable vision. The NCBI provides a service to over 7,000 people every year. 2,000 of whom they are seeing for the first time. Almost 95% of the people who access our services every year have some degree of useful vision while less than 5% are blind. With an ageing population, the number of people needing to access their services is increasing by 12 per cent each year. (Ref NCBI Website)
In addition to raising funds for the National Council for the Blind Tommy has worked for many charities in his local community and for the GAA. When he has spare time, no doubt a rare occasion, he enjoys painting, sculpting and cookery.
June- Pat Hayes
Pat Hayes, who hails from Clondaw, Ferns was inspired to raise funds for St Lukes Cancer Hospital following his partners brush with cancer 6 years ago. The services provided during her illness were exceptional and Pat wanted to give something back for the excellent care she received so he pledged to raise much needed moneys for the hospital and started his fundraising events in 2009.
Pat walked 10 miles per day for 30 days in July 2009 starting in Rosslare. Along the wide and varied route of his walks Pat entertained every evening in a different venue in each town to raise funds for the hospital. Pat finished his tour of Ireland when he walked into New Ross at the end of July, tired but extremely happy. Pat’s walk saw him traverse the country hitting towns like Cavan, Longford, Carrick-on-Shannon and Castlebar on the way. He then headed south along the west coast going through Galway, Clare, Kerry and Cork on the way. The final leg of the journey saw Pat head across the south coast, stopping off in Youghal, Dungarvan and Waterford before finally coming back into New Ross.
ONE MAN’S walk for charity has raised over €37,000 for St Lukes Hospital for vital cancer care services.
July – Alan Powell
Alan Powell of Fethard on Sea – he is the church warden (of the Prostestant Church), involved in the country market and other village events. Also he has a severely handicapped daughter and last year due to budget cutbacks, her respite care was reduced to four hours a week. Alan is born and bred in Fethard, where his family has been farming a small farm for generations. He’s the middle one of 6 children, 3 boys older, 2 girls younger. He went to London at a young age, and from there he joined first the Danish Merchant navy, and later the Norwegian Merchant navy. Thats where he met his Norwegian wife and they got married in 1977. In the same year they bought the ‘New Rectory’ in Fethard and they have lived there since. Their daughter Siobhan was born in 1984, and she has severe mental and physical disabilities.
He continued sailing until 2005 when he retired, and since then he has been able to enjoy life in Fethard! He loves the village and the local Church of Ireland. He is a warden of the church, and makes sure the church is opened up and heated for service most Sundays.
He is also closely involved in the local Country market during the summer. They are open all summer and sell locally produced vegetables, food, eggs and crafts. It is very popular and well supported by locals and visitors. Alan grows vegetables for the market, and his garden is one of his great joys.
He is also a member of the local Coast Guard team, who work together with the local life boat in rescues and recoveries along the coast. They were closely involved in the recent search for John Ennis.
He loves the outdoor life and will be found most days walking his two dogs on the local beaches. He also likes helping people and will try to assist anybody around that needs a hand.
He is very close to his daughter and together they often go for drive at the weekend, or for a walk around the village.
August – Gardai, Michael Murphy & Neil Murphy
Two community Gardai were hailed as heroes after rescuing a young mother and two toddlers trapped in a burning house in Wexford. Garda Neil Murphy and Garda Michael Murphy saved Natasha Gordon, her daughter Rebecca (2) and her nephew James (3)
The young mother and two children were seconds from death in Coolcotts when they were rescued after a fire broke out while they were sleeping upstairs. Natasha, 23, was babysitting for her sister Tracey and sleeping overnight in her house when a smoke alarm went off. Natasha bravely tried to get downstairs but there was too much smoke.
Gardaí Neil and Michael Murphy arrived at approximately 2a.m. and attempted to kick down the front door. One of the Gardaí smashed the side window and turned the key in the door. They went upstairs, battling the thick smoke and lifted the children out of the room and out of harm.
Natasha, the children and the 2 Gardai were transferred to Wexford General Hospital and treated for smoke inhalation. 2 units of the fire brigade extinguished the fire which destroyed most of the lower floor of the house.
Without the bravery of both Gardai it could have been a very different outcome for Natasha and the 2 young children.
September – Una Lacey
Una plays for the Oulart the Ballagh Club. She is an All Ireland Senior medal winner 2010 and 2007. Her other titles include National League Division 1 2009 and 2010. All Star 2007 and 2010. Feile All Ireland Feile na nGael medals 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 2002 (as captain) (national record). Leinster U14 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002; Leinster U16 2002. All Ireland Senior Colleges with Colaiste Bride
2003, 2004, 2005: All Ireland Junior Colleges with Colaiste Bride 2004 (Capt). Leinster Junior 2003, 2004. Club Senior 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 2007 2009 2010. Ashbourne 2007, 2008. Leinster Senior 2007, 2010. Shared Irish Independent/Jury’s sport star of the week with her sister Mary after the 2007 All Ireland final. Purple and Gold Star 2008. Sister of Mary and daughter of Margaret (nee O’Leary) who was selected as left half back on the camogie team of the century.
October – John Coady
On the 7th March 2008 Wexford based John Coady retired from An Garda Siochana after 36 years service. On the 12th March 2008 he took up the position of Manager at Ozanam House where he deals with the day to day issues of homeless men.
He works tirelessly on this cause on behalf of the Society of St Vincent De Paul Hostels of which Ozanam House is one. The Society of St Vincent De Paul is the largest provider of emergency and short-term accommodation and services to people out of home in Ireland and is one of the largest homeless service providers in Europe. SVP services to people out of home are characterized by Flexibility, Commitment and Professional Holistic Support.
Ozanam House Hostel, situated in Thomas Street, Wexford provides Emergency Accommodation for homeless men only. Homelessness can be the result of many causes including mental illness, addictions and abuse. Many do not have the life skills to live successfully in their own homes and as a result find themselves homeless. A key worker is assigned to each new arrival that will advise, assist and support them during their residency in the hostel. Their case is also shared with the local Housing Action Team.
The hostel assists the homeless person to acquire the skills for them to achieve long term sustainable and independent accommodation and break the cycle of homelessness.
Ozanam House Hostel and John Coady as its Manager are committed to providing Emergency Accommodation for homeless men in Wexford and to assist them in moving to successful independent living.
November- Tony Murphy
Tony Murphy was one of the 6 founding members of The Wexford AbleDisabled Club (WADC) officially opened 25 years ago last November. Born and bred in Wexford and one of 14 siblings with a disabled brother amongst the brood! Tony witnessed first- hand the prejudices and difficulties experienced by his brother.
He became involved with St Josephs Boys Club in Bishopswater. Several youth workers realized that intellectually challenged members at that time had no other social outlet or means to make inroads into mainstream society. The six founding members of WADC were in fact management members of the hugely popular and successful youth club.
Following much soul searching thought and discussion, a unique club was formed. The ethos of the club, apart from facilitating their needs, would be to actively seek their integration as equal members of society in Wexford. Within weeks of its formation, Wexford AbleDisabled Club was a hive of activity.
During the early years, WADC continued to operate from within St. Joseph’s Club in Bishopswater. Its members have taken their rightful place as productive citizens of society while the aims of the club have remained strong and true. Having reached its 25th anniversary, the club remains homeless, without a premises they can call their own.
Tony Murphy is currently the Hon. Treasurer of the club and has worked tirelessly to promote the needs of its members. He has worked for 25 years in a voluntary capacity. His reward is the achievement of its members.
It is certain that without the work of Tony Murphy and the other founding members who continue to actively support the members of WADC, week in and week out, life for the challenged members of society in Wexford would be very different and somewhat lonely place for them. The next big challenge is to secure a permanent home for the club for its next milestone celebration!
December –Caroline Kennedy
The death of a young child is hard to comprehend and devastating for most families at any time but to be touched twice by tragedy would be too much to bear for most of us but not Caroline Kennedy.
Caroline and Matt lost their first daughter Aoife on Carnew’s Main Street in November 2006 following a traffic accident. They set up the Aoife Kennedy Memorial fund so that their five and a half year old daughter would never be forgotten and to give them an opportunity to give something back to celebrate the life she had.
Tragically their second daughter Aine, also five and a half lost her life in April 2010 to a suspected viral infection.
Proud mum Caroline says that her 2 angels give her the strength and courage to raise funds to help save another child’s life and at the same time keep their precious memories alive.
Fantastic work has been done for the children of County Wexford from the moneys raised through the Aoife and Aine Memorial Fund. A transport ventilator with the help of the Baby Max foundation, was purchased and the funds raised through a Halloween ball helped put Occupational Therapist (OT) equipment in place in St Senan’s Primary School for autistic children and this year they are helping with the funding for an OT for these children as there is no funding available from the government.
January – Daniel Kirwan…… The Irish Elvis
Daniel Kirwan, better known and loved as the Irish Elvis is one of Irelands leading Elvis Tribute artists.
Wheelchair bound Daniel has done a lot of work for Downs Syndrome Ireland to raise much needed funds. He has been performing his Elvis tribute show since August 2006 and has travelled all over Ireland and many parts of the world to entertain million so fans Elvis style!
He captures the essence of the 70’s Elvis by wearing authentic jumpsuits and jewelry from the USA. He has reached the finals in many Elvis tribute artist contests and most recently in “ The search for Ireland’s best Elvis contest held at the Red Cow Hotel in Dublin.