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Stradbally woman wins Golden Jubilee Volunteer Award

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Gillie Walsh Kemmis with her gold medallion in Athlone yesterday at the Community Games Awards
Gillie Walsh Kemmis with her gold medallion in Athlone yesterday at the Community Games Awards

Stradbally native Gillie Walsh-Kemmis was presented with a Golden Jubilee Volunteer Award for her services to Community Games at a ceremony in Athlone yesterday.

The Games are 50 years old this year and to celebrate that, they invited counties to put forward people who they believed made the biggest contribution over the years.

Gillie is a fresh water biologist by profession and she was introduced to Community Games by Sheila Deegan, another lifelong volunteer.

In Sheila’s words: “the ethos of Community Games is to promote
participation while developing young people’s talents and developing their potential to the fullest”.

Gillie was hooked from day one seeing the excitement on children’s faces at area, county and national finals.

Gillie Wlash Kemmis pictured alongside Brid Dwyer and Austin Watt Clancy in Athlone yesterday at the Community Games Awards
Gillie Wlash Kemmis pictured alongside Mary Dwyer and Austin Watt Clancy in Athlone yesterday at the Community Games Awards

Gillie served the Stradbally area for 30 years, while she also worked as Laois county as chairperson, secretary, treasurer  for
26 years and volunteered at national and provincial finals for numerous years.

She was proud to see the Stradbally senior football team win the county championship this year as all were past competitors and some are following Gillies footsteps as volunteers for community games.

She has done so much for community games it is hard to highlight one thing. Most people will know the Cosby Hall area of Stradbally for the Electric Picnic, but, before this, Gillie would walk in the same grounds in her “Wellies”.

Gillie and Austin Watt Clancy with her award
Gillie and Austin Watt Clancy with her award

For more than 25 years she marked out the grounds for track and field for the area;s athletics finals.

She also went on to organise for County, the athletic finals, Cross Country finals, Art, Cycling and much more.  All so that the children in our county from 6-16 could participate in
Community Games.

Legendary commentator Mícheál Ó’Muircheartaigh presented Gillie with her fully deserved award at the ceremony.

Gillie was one of 27 people to be honoured on the day in what was a great day for her.