Sports volunteers to receive recognition at awards ceremony

by Rachel Darcy

Dublin’s Pat Hooper and Stella Downes will receive recognition for their volunteer work through the years at this week’s virtual Federation of Irish Sport Volunteers in Sport awards.

Olympian Pat Hooper (RIP) will be honoured with a Special Recognition Award for his dedication to the sport of athletics.

Pat was a stalwart of athletics and his club Raheny Shamrocks, and was a decorated athlete himself before becoming a dedicated coach.

He was appreciated, respected and loved by his clubmates, friends and family, with his untimely passing last year felt by the athletics community, leading to an honour at this week’s virtual awards ceremony.

For more than 25 years, Stella has been central to the running of Clontarf Cricket Club and cricket in Ireland. As well as long periods in Clontarf CC as Scorer, Club Secretary, Player, Child Protection Officer and general club administrator, Stella has also held the role of the Ireland Men’s National Team Scorer.

She has scored over 200 international and interprovincial matches and has led the way in Scorer education, teaching the technique of scoring to up-and-coming cricketers. Stella is also currently a member of the Board of Cricket Leinster and was recently appointed as the first female president (in 101 years) for the 2020/2021 term.

The Volunteers in Sport Awards were created to champion the contribution, commitment and dedication of the army of 450,000 volunteers across the country who go above and beyond by giving their time to Irish sport and physical activity each year.

Speaking about the awards, CEO of the Federation of Irish Sport, Mary O’Connor said: “Sport plays a central role in the social fabric of every community in Ireland, yet it would not happen at all without the army of volunteers who dedicate their time and expertise across pitches, courts, tracks, pools and community halls across the country.

“This year, more than ever before, we have seen just how essential the role of the volunteer is in our local communities and to this end, it will be an honour to be able to recognise so many of these volunteers at this week’s virtual Volunteers in Sport awards.

“I would like to extend my warmest congratulations to all of this year’s recipients, and also thank EBS for their amazing support in bringing the awards – and wider recognition – of volunteers in sport in Ireland to life.”

Minister of State for Sport and the Gaeltacht, Jack Chambers, TD, said: “It is a real honour for me to help recognise so many fantastic volunteers in our community at this year’s virtual Volunteers in Sport Awards.

“I have always admired the hard work and dedication that goes on behind the scenes in sport and physical activity throughout the country, and it is a privilege for me be involved this week to help celebrate so many incredible individuals who give their time and dedication to ensuring that sport in Ireland runs smoothly 365 days of the year.

“Volunteers are often overlooked, but they are truly the backbone of sport in Ireland and these awards are a superb way to recognise and honour their amazing contribution to their communities.”

The awards will be streamed live each evening from 7pm on the Federation of Irish Sport’s Facebook page here.

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