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Older Volunteer of the Year

The Older Volunteer Award celebrates the considerable contribution made by older volunteers (60 years and over) to the work of organisations and groups across the city. It also provides an opportunity for groups and organisations to promote and recognise the difference older volunteers and their volunteering make to the people and communities of Belfast.

We've been running the Older Volunteer of the Year award scheme, supported by Volunteer Now, through the Atlantic Philanthropies since 2011.

Nominations for Older Volunteer of the Year 2013

The winner of the 2013 award was 84-year-old Malachy Turley, a volunteer with the West Belfast 50+Forum and South Link Day Centre who campaigns for seniors’ rights in north and west Belfast.

Malachy was also instrumental in setting up a residential hostel for those with alcohol related problems and was the oldest volunteer at the 2013 World Police and Fire Games where he looked after golf participants.

Deirdre Murphy, who nominated him, commented that Malachy always has a skip in his step, echoing research which shows that volunteering has physical and mental benefits for older people.

We also awarded a runner up award for the first time to Mary Lagan (66) who volunteers with the Kin Together Support Group, which supports grandparents who are raising grandchildren. Jacqueline Williamson from Kinship Care NI who nominated her said that Mary is a kind and lovely lady, friendly, hardworking and passionate about helping other people.

The Older Volunteer Award scheme is supported by Volunteer Now through The Atlantic Philanthropies.

Older Volunteer of the Year 2012

The winner of the award in 2012 was 88-year-old Tommy Stewart, who has volunteered for 35 years with the Northern Ireland Association for Mental Health (Niamh) at the Bracken Beacon Day Support Centre in east Belfast.

The Beacon Day Support Centre works with adults with mental health needs. As a volunteer, Tommy has provided provided support for people who use the centre, helping them through their problems by listening to them without judgement.

Emma Bailie who nominated Tommy for the award, said he is "a wonderful, compassionate, empathetic, generous and committed volunteer whose care, enthusiasm and passion for volunteering with mental health service users knows no bounds."

Overall winner 2011 - Jim Pierce

Jim volunteers with Lighthouse, an organisation which works with those bereaved through suicide and other sudden death. He impressed the panel because of the commitment he has given to the organisation following the loss of his twin daughters, Geraldine and Georgina, through suicide. His personal experience brings an additional dimension to his volunteering and puts a face to the tragedy of suicide.

Runner-up 2011 - Jonene McMaster

Jonene is a helpline volunteer with Parenting NI, a leading parenting support organisation. During 2010-11, she provided 85 families with support, guidance and information. Jonene not only gives time to her role as a helpline volunteer, but she also serves as a mentor and role model to other volunteers within the organisation

Runner-up 2011 - Lynn Davidson

Lynn Davidson is a volunteer driver for Ulster Cancer Foundation. The driving service is for cancer patients who, for health, finance or personal reasons, don’t have access to transport to allow them to attend regular hospital appointments for their cancer treatment. The support Lynn received from UCF during her own cancer diagnosis inspired her to volunteer her time with the organisation. As well as her role as a volunteer driver, Lynn also supports fundraising events and mailshots and mans information stands.

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