Pullough group scoops National Volunteer Award

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ger.scully@tullamoretribune.ie

Pullough Community Action Group won the Outstanding Group award at the national Volunteer Ireland Awards on Friday 7th December. Over 1 million people in Ireland volunteer and these awards aim to say thank you for the hard work, dedication and impact of volunteers across the country.

Pullough Community Action Group was set up by a group of eight volunteers who felt this small rural village needed to have a shop where local people could buy basic groceries and meet their neighbours on a regular basis.

In spite of the fact that they had no money to bring about their dream of re-opening a shop, this group set about fundraising to set up a community, voluntary run shop. Within a few months they had secured permission from the owner to lease the premises, raised enough money to cover the cost of insurance, repair, restore and stock the shop. Overcoming all obstacles they forged ahead and opened Offaly's only community shop in June 2017. Since then they have remained dedicated to their roles as volunteers. The shop is open seven days a week, even remaining open during the severe storms and snow of the past year.

The re-opening of the shop has brought new life to the village. It not only provides local people with the opportunity to buy food locally but has become a social hub and is greatly contributing to inter-generational interaction through the hosting of community events. The creation of a youth space in an area of the shop has also made a big difference to the young people of the area.

According to Offaly Volunteering Information Service Coordinator Siobhan Brdoerick “We are very lucky to have volunteers like this here in Offaly and I’d like to congratulate them all on this acheivement. They really are the embodiment of the volunteering spirirt, giving back to make a real difference in their community. Hopefully their story will inspire others to get involved in their communities.”

The eleventh Volunteer Ireland Awards took place on Friday 7th December in the Carlton Hotel, Blanchardstown, Dublin 15. Mary Fitzgerald from Co. Clare was named Christine Buckley Volunteer of the Year for her dedication to helping those experiencing domestic abuse. The award is named after Christine Buckley who was a vigorous camapigner for those who suffered institutional abuse and sadly passed away in 2009. Winners were also announced in eleven categories including Volunteer Manager of the Year.

Martin Buckley, Chairman of the Pullough Action Group said: “It was with Great Pride to join my fellow volunteers at the National Awards. To be nominated and shorlisted was a great achievement but to win it was an unbelievable experience and I would like to thank all our great volunteers who have contributed to this project, from an idea to where we are today. A big thank you to all who donated, helped and supported us on our journey so far.

“To Cllr John Leahy, Volunteer Offaly, LocalLink, Offaly PPN, Offaly Co.Co and especially the team at Offaly Local Development Company, thank you all for the advise, ongoing support & your encouragement throughout”.

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