Belfast’s older volunteers enjoy the limelight
12 Dec 2017
Belfast woman Elizabeth Sillery was today (Tuesday) named Older Volunteer of the Year 2017 at Belfast City Hall, for her voluntary management of the Agapé Centre in south Belfast.
The achievements and contributions of 44 older volunteers from day centres, arts organisations, churches and charities across the city were celebrated over lunch today at Belfast City Council’s Age-Friendly Belfast Older Volunteer Awards.
Older Volunteer of the Year Elizabeth Sillery has volunteered at the Agapé Centre for several decades and has been instrumental in managing the Lisburn Road centre on a completely voluntary basis since it opened five years ago.
Jo-Anne Crossley, who made the nomination said: “Elizabeth knows every aspect of the Agapé Centre from how the boiler works, to where to find a cable for our video projector! She maintains meticulous records and also recruits other volunteers to help out when the centre is particularly busy.
“Thanks to Elizabeth’s commitment, the Agapé Centre can offer a great service to clients. Nothing is too much trouble – she’s the Rolls Royce of Volunteers!”
Belfast Lord Mayor, Councillor Nuala McAllister who hosted today’s event said: “It’s been an absolute pleasure and privilege to meet these wonderful volunteers today – along with the people who nominated them to show how much they value their contribution to their organisations.
“Volunteers are an integral part of Belfast’s social fabric. Reading the nominations, and listening to the personal stories today, what I’m hearing time and time again is that these volunteers are reliable, loyal, good humoured, welcoming, patient and selfless. They’re providing such positive role models to those much younger in age – and reminding us all that our society is so much richer if we give time to, and help those around us.”
Volunteers were recognised across an additional four categories:
• Marie Mathews Participation: Albert McIntyre was nominated by Mount Merrion Parish Church for his dedication and support for the community space. Albert has volunteered with the church for the last 40 years, making preparations for the Toddler group, the evening dance class, which he attends himself and a weekly community drop-in.
• Take 5 Active Ageing: Joan Nicholson was nominated by Mark Turner for her work to make Grove Community Garden part of the local community. In her role as Chairperson, Joan organises activities, the induction and befriending of new members including clients with learning disabilities and acts as the link between the community gardeners and the council who own the site.
• Arts and Culture: Nora Greer was nominated by Fighting Words Belfast, based at the Skainos Centre in east Belfast, for her mentoring work to unleash the creative writing talents of children and young people, including those who have additional educational needs.
• Team or group: Family Support volunteers Anne Mulholland, Roseanne Monroe, Mary Campbell, Maureen Kirk, Jenny Baxter and Norah McGrath were nominated by TinyLife for their practical, social and emotional support to families of premature and sick babies and helping to raise the profile of TinyLife within the community.
Susan Neilly was also recognised with a special award for her tireless volunteering in her role as Chair of the Greater Shankill Senior Citizens’ Forum. Susan sadly passed away after the nomination period, so her award was accepted by her daughter Sarah.
For more information on the Age-Friendly Belfast Older Volunteer Awards, go to www.belfastcity.gov.uk/volunteering