Today is the deadline for Tallaght Person of the Year nominations
By Mary Dennehy
AS THE deadline looms for Tallaght Person of the Year nominations, the winner of last year’s Special Needs and Carers category spoke of how the awards ceremony and all those who nominate help to remind us that Tallaght is a great place to live, thanks to its army of volunteers.
Since the first families moved into Tallaght’s new housing estates in the early seventies, residents have been volunteering and working tirelessly to provide services, supports and activities that were not provided by a succession of Governments.
There’s an inherent sense of volunteerism within the Tallaght community that is unrivalled, with people happy to roll up their sleeves and do what they can to make their areas better places to live, work and play.
Now in its 34th year, the Tallaght Person of the Year awards provides a platform to recognise, appreciate and applaud these people and groups, while bringing the community together to celebrate their hometown.
Being nominated for an award carries just as much significance as a win, with Mairead Mekki, of Social Circle, the winner of last year’s Special Needs and Carers Award, believing that the recognition is priceless in terms of encouragement and acknowledgment for volunteers.
Established in June 2014, Social Circle is a fun club for children with autism and other special needs, their siblings and parents – with the organisation not only providing activities but promoting inclusion, offering support and generating awareness.
Run voluntarily by local parents Mairead Mekki, Tallaght, and Laura Hegarty, Walkinstown, the group has more than 200 member families, who engage in a number of weekly activities, such as art, Lego clubs, music therapy, science, football and swimming – with families also enjoying monthly trips and camps.
Mairead told The Echo: “We were so thrilled just to be nominated last year and then to win was so lovely. We were so surprised, we weren’t expecting it at all.
“We are a community-based group and every penny raised goes back into activities for the kids, and we have activities for parents too like yoga.
“It’s amazing how much Social Circle helps parents and we would like to thank South Dublin County Council as well, which has supported us with a couple of grants.”
She added: “Tallaght Person of the Year is a brilliant night, and it’s great to see everyone there supporting each other.
“The work that people do in Tallaght is immeasurable and the area definitely wouldn’t be the place it is without volunteers.”
Nominate across the seven categories of Art and Culture, Community, Heart of Gold, Michael Dooley Environment, Special Needs and Carers, Philip Preston Sport and Maurice McConnell Youth by Monday, October 23.
The guest of honour at this year’s ceremony is Tallaght native and All-Ireland winner Denis Bastick with live entertainment provided by Level Heads.
Tickets are now available for the awards ceremony, which will be staged in the Red Cow Moran Hotel on November 17, from the Box Office in The Echo offices on Main Road, Tallaght every Thursday and Friday until Nov 4 (unless sold out beforehand).
For full details on each category and how to nominate online visit www.tallaghtpersonawards.ie