Much deserved award for Clogher Valley volunteer

RUGBY volunteer, Stephen Hetherington, from Clogher Valley RFC, will receive nationwide recognition for his dedication to sport, as he has been awarded the Fermanagh award for the 2021 Federation of Irish Sport Volunteers in Sport Awards, proudly supported by EBS.

The awards took place virtually on December this week and saw Stephen, along with volunteers from across the country, honoured for their amazing dedication to volunteering across a variety of different sports.

For over 20 years, Stephen has acted as photographer, public relations contact and, more recently, social media manager for Clogher Valley Rugby Football Club. In this time, Stephen has substantially raised the profile of the club throughout the Clogher Valley area and further afield.

Every week, he can be found taking photographs at the club’s matches, regardless of level or age grade, and regularly travels substantial distances, giving freely of his time, to ensure all local papers have match reports and pictures. He set up, and is solely responsible for, the club’s website and social media platforms and, through his hard work and dedication, the club has enhanced their community relations enormously.

IRFU President Des Kavanagh said: “I’d like to congratulate Stephen on his award and thank him for all the time he has dedicated to his club and to rugby in general. Our volunteers are the lifeblood of our clubs and the sport. Every hour that someone gives to their club is invaluable and makes the club and the community a better place for their involvement.

“This award is a wonderful recognition of Stephen’s commitment to Clogher Valley and I thank him and all our volunteers for their time, passion and love of the game.”

The Volunteers in Sport Awards celebrate the contributions of the band of volunteers across the country who give their time to Irish sport and physical activity every year. This equates to approximately 37.3 million hours of volunteering across Ireland’s 13,000 registered sports clubs and associations and, according to Sport Ireland’s 2021 ‘Researching the Value of Sport in Ireland’ report, is worth an estimated €1.5bn to the exchequer.

Throughout September and October members of the public, sports clubs and governing bodies were invited to nominate an individual whose contribution to sport and physical activity in Ireland has made a real difference to their community, club or county. The nominations and award recipients were selected by a judging panel consisting of 12 individuals drawn from sports administration, the volunteer community and media, and included former Director General of the GAA, Paraic Duffy, RTÉ broadcaster, Marie Crowe and CEO of Gaisce, Yvonne McKenna.

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

“These awards have a special place in the sporting calendar as they recognise those who have given an incredible amount of time throughout the year who have ensured that sport can takes place in our communities, and they do so without the expectation of gratitude or reward.

“The amount of hard work and dedication that these volunteers give to sport in Ireland is quite truly astonishing and I am privileged to support both the volunteers and these awards. I would also like to thank the Federation of Irish Sport and EBS, and all who will help make these virtual ceremonies a memorable occasion for all.”

Speaking about the awards, CEO of the Federation of Irish Sport, Mary O’Connor said: “Despite another very challenging year for sport, we have once again seen how important volunteering has been to communities across Ireland.

“We have an enormous amount of gratitude for the army of volunteers who have ensured that sport could take place in a safe and controlled manner. Whether it be on pitches, courts, tracks, pools or even community halls across the country, the volunteers are always there to make sure sport and physical activity continues to take place around Ireland.

“It gives me immense pride to be able to recognise so many of these volunteers at next week’s virtual Volunteers in Sport Awards and I would like to extend my warmest congratulations to all of this year’s recipients. I would like to also thank EBS for their continued support in bringing wider recognition of volunteers in sport in Ireland to life. I would also like to express my gratitude to Minister Jack Chambers who will be taking the time out of his schedule to attend our virtual ceremonies next week and helping us to champion and celebrate the recipients.”

Managing Director of EBS, Paul Butler, commented: “EBS is delighted to partner with the Federation of Irish Sport once more to honour and recognise the everyday heroes around Ireland who make sure sport happens every day. EBS has been involved in local communities around Ireland for over 80 years and we are delighted to showcase the tremendous work these volunteers do for sport throughout their communities.

“These volunteers truly are the backbone of Irish sport, and we are proud to support them. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate all the recipients of the 2021 Volunteers in Sports Awards and thank them for all of the tireless work they do to ensure sport in Ireland continues to flourish.”

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