Ballyfermot Kenpo Karate Champion is 2023 Sporting Hero

by Gazette Reporter
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James Poland from Ballyfermot in Dublin was named a Hidden Hearing Hero at this year’s national awards presentation.  A winner in the sporting category, Jimmy was cited as generous with his time and commitment to those in his community, particularly younger people, looking for challenge and purpose and an outlet to train and make friends.

Jimmy has been training kenpo karate in Ballyfermot since the 1970s, and is a 9th degree Black Belt Chief Instructor. He often coaches freely and has brought club members to international competitions, where they have brought home multiple world championships.  Jimmy, himself, is a highly decorated competitor and was a six-time International Champion.  

The focus was never on just winning, those nominating him say, but on giving children somewhere safe to develop, and real friendship, at their dojo in the Ballyfermot Sports and Leisure Club.  His family, wife Mary and sons James and Daniel, are also qualified instructors and competitive champions who work at the club.

Celebrities from the world of TV and entertainment turned out to congratulate Jimmy Poland and eleven other winners of the 2023 HIDDEN HEARING’ HEROES AWARDS in Dublin.

Kin star, Yasmin Seky, singer Daniel O’Donnell, TV personality Mary Kennedy, actress and new mum, Jenny Dixon, and TV presenters Emer O’Neill, Nuala Carey, and Alan Hughes, were among guests at the gala ceremony to acknowledge Ireland’s everyday superheroes, who do extraordinary things. 

The 2023 Sporting Hero said their goal at the Ballyfermot club is to teach self-defence and discipline, and to keep kids involved in sport, and encourage a strong sense of community in them.  The kenpo club introduced an anti-drugs policy, for classes, and at the end of each session one of the students leads the rest of the class in an anti-drugs pledge.

Hidden heroes like Jimmy are proving that a sense of purpose drives healthier communities.  By sharing his love of sports and sporting achievement, he and his family are making a real difference to young people in Ballyfermot,” Stephen Leddy, Managing Director of Hidden Hearing, said at the awards presentation.

Other winners in the 2023 Hidden Hearing awards included 35-year-old Jonthy Dillon, also from Dublin, a musician who trained to provide music therapy for the special needs group his brother attends in Finglas.

A Kerry man who founded Social Action Group Rathmore has dedicated 48 years to working with young people, and was awarded the 2023 ‘Charity Hero Award’. 

The five Phelan brothers from Dungarvan in County Waterford, who cycled the length of Ireland, raising thousands of euros for Crumlin Children’s Hospital won the ‘Family Hero Award’.

The Hidden Hearing awards are open to everyone, young and old, from all walks of life, and with or without a hearing impairment.

Congratulating the winners, ceremony MC, Mary Kennedy told guests that the heroes awards scheme is supported by Hidden Hearing because, like our hearing, special people can sometimes be taken for granted and not fully appreciated.

It is important to also acknowledge everyone who nominated these wonderful people.  Our winners deserve recognition because, too often, we forget to recognise the ordinary people, doing extraordinary things, quietly, within their community or family,” Mary Kennedy said.

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