Ballina Community Clean Up won a prestigious 2021 Pride of Place community award for the town on Monday, May 16 2022 at a gala ceremony in Killarney, County Kerry. Sponsored by IPB Insurance, the Pride of Place competition was initiated 19 years ago though a Co-operation Ireland programme to acknowledge the invaluable work undertaken by volunteers and those involved in local community development.
Following in the footsteps of Ballina Lions Club, who won the same award in 2020, and the town’s first win in 2013 , the voluntary group claimed the top spot in the Population over 5,000 category, with judges praising their efforts to “involve participants from across the entire community.”
“Ballina Community Clean Up started with six volunteers and has since grown to more than 300. The obvious enjoyment and camaraderie that emanates from their cross-community activities was very much in evidence in their presentation.”
Ballina Community Cleanup Group was nominated by Mayo County Council to represent the county in the awards, and was mentored by Maura Murphy. Ballyheane Community Council, Killeen Community Council and The Cattle Raid of Mayo Trail also received a nominations on the night but were to ultimately miss out on a gong.
The awards, hosted by RTE’s Marty Whelan, took place in Kerry’s INEC centre with 400 community volunteers in attendance. It has grown into the largest competition recognising community development achievements on the island of Ireland.
President Michael D. Higgins, who is Joint Patron of Co-operation Ireland with Queen Elizabeth, said the awards played an important role.
“The Pride of Place awards are a most important initiative, reminding us that creating societies that are ethical and inclusive is a task for all of our citizens, of all ages and circumstances.”
Pride of Place founder and Chairman Tom Dowling said; “These Awards continue to be as important as ever as we are about to start judging the 20th year of the competition. The purpose of the awards has never changed. They are about recognising and celebrating the extraordinary, inspirational, and tireless work being done by communities all over the island of Ireland as they strive to make their place a better place in which to live.”
Dr Christopher Moran, Chairman of Co-operation Ireland said: “Co-operation Ireland has no other programme that embodies the charity’s ethos better than Pride of Place.
“We work to build relationships across the island and Pride of Place plays a critical role in that work. The impact the awards have had in towns and villages across the island since they started in 2003 cannot be underestimated, and the continuing success of the awards is down to the dedicated volunteers and their love of where they live.
George Jones Chairman, IPB Insurance said: “The IPB Pride of Place Awards are an ideal platform to recognise the positive social impacts being made in communities across the island of Ireland. I would like to take this opportunity to commend all the communities involved for their spirit of collaboration and camaraderie in making it to the finals.
“It is also important to recognise the role of local authorities across the island of Ireland who work closely with their communities to support inspiring voluntary initiatives. These awards serve as one of the important ways that we can recognise those involved in working to make a difference in society”.