Laois’ Pat Kelly was honoured at the ‘Volunteers in Sport Awards’, hosted by the Federation of Irish Sport in partnership with EBS, yesterday in Farmleigh House Dublin.
Pat received the Laois sports volunteer of the year award for his commitment to St Abbans Athletics Club.
The award was presented by Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Brendan Griffin TD.
Pat has devoted many hours to volunteering with St Abbans and was shocked with his nomination and subsequent win of the award.
The Volunteers in Sport Awards were created to recognise the contributions, commitment and dedication of the 450,000 volunteers who give their time to Irish sport each year.
This equates to approximately 37.3 million hours of volunteering across Ireland’s 14,000 registered sports clubs and associations.
A total of 34 awards were presented at the ceremony, including 32 county-level awards, an overall ‘outstanding contribution’ award and a ‘team of volunteers’ award.
Swim Ireland’s Mary Dunne received the outstanding contribution award and Limerick based ‘Women on Wheels’ received the ‘team of volunteers’ award.
Pat’s club St Abban’s paid tribute to him: “Throughout life there are some people who make an impact on an organisation and move on afterwards.
“Rarely have we ever seen someone to continue to make such an impact on the lives of athletes, coaches and parents as Pat Kelly.
“Pat’s contribution to the development of St Abbans AC is immeasurable. He’s everlasting presence at the club over the last 6 decades has seen the club progress from a little club in rural Laois to the bastion of athletics it is today.
“Mention St Abban’s AC throughout the country and everybody will know Pat Kelly. There isn’t a more deserving winner of this voluntary contribution to sport award today.
“A huge congratulations and thanks from everybody at the club for your ongoing support, wisdom, encouragement and development of our club and the people involved.
“Our lives would be far different were it not for the fantastic work of Pat and everybody at the club is very grateful for that.”
Commenting at the awards, Mary O’Connor, CEO of the Federation of Irish Sport, said:
“Sport matters. It contributes to our health, binds us together as a community and supports the economy, while bringing a sense of pride to us all.
“This would not be possible without the volunteers who share their time and expertise on pitches, tracks, gym floors and swimming pools across the country each and every week.
“To this end, the Volunteers in Sport Awards is an opportunity to recognise and celebrate these volunteers.
“I would like to extend my congratulations to all our award nominees as we celebrate their contribution to sport across Ireland today.”
Also speaking at the launch, Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Brendan Griffin TD said: “It was a real honour for me to attend the Volunteers in Sport Awards. As somebody who has been involved in sport at an amateur level since I was a child myself, I have always marvelled at the commitment that so many club members show to their communities up and down the country.
“It is a real privilege to recognise the contribution made by those who do so much for others in fulfilling the less glamourous but most definitely vital and often overlooked tasks involved in almost any sport you can imagine.
The men and women honoured today may not be household names across the country but in their own communities they are real treasures. I was delighted to speak to many of them today. My thanks to the Federation of Irish Sport and all those who made this ceremony such a memorable occasion for all the recipients.”