HELEN O’Donnell. who spearheaded a major drive to enhance and revitalise Limerick city centre. said she was “truly stunned” having being named the Limerick Person of the Year 2012.
The mother-of-one. who is the chairperson of Limerick Tidy Towns, was announced as the 2012 winner at a gala awards lunch in the Clarion Hotel Limerick on Tuesday afternoon.
“It’s seldom I am short for words,” said Helen after she was named the Person of the Year by special guest, Pat Cox.
“Thank you to the judges. Thank you to everyone here and congratulations to everybody else because as you all came up here I thought, ‘That’s definitely worthy’. I went down and my son said, ‘Mum, there is no way you are going to win this!’ Thank you, Thomas, for the vote of confidence!” she smiled.
The Ballysheedy resident, who is married to former MEP Tom O’Donnell, urged all in attendance to do what they can to encourage their family and friends to volunteer their time for the betterment of Limerick city.
“There is so much that we can contribute by working together to make Limerick a better place to work in, live in, enjoy and shop in because that is what I am passionate about,” she said.
Journalist and broadcaster Vincent Browne, who received a Lifetime Achievement Award, said he was “hugely honoured” to be recognised by people from his own county who he said he has “such allegiance to”.
“I am deeply grateful,” said the native of Broadford in County Limerick.
“For most of us, thinking that we have achieved anything in our lives is a conceit,” he continued, “aside from giving our children a sense of self-worth and a sense of happiness. The parents who manage to do that, I think, contribute enormously.”
Special guest Pat Cox, who leads the Limerick City of Culture initiative for 2014, spoke of the “wonderful sense of vitality that you can feel from a platform like this today.”
“Vincent spoke about the value of family and I think what we have witnessed here is the value of community in all its manifestations – sport, volunteerism, science, arts, literature, and civic engagement,” he said.
Limerick Leader editor and judge, Alan English, paid tribute to the 12 nominees who were the 12 winners of the Limerick Person of the Month awards featured in the Limerick Leader newspaper. “We are really proud, once again, of the 12 monthly winners, every one of whom has made a positive difference and shown the best of Limerick,” he said.
The Limerick Person of the Year awards aer sponsored by the Limerick Leader, media agency Southern and the Clarion Hotel.
For further coverage of the Limerick Person of the Year awards, including many more pictures from the event, see the Limerick Leader weekend editions, on sale tomorrow morning.