HELEN O’Donnell, who spearheaded a major drive to enhance and revitalise Limerick city centre, has been named Limerick Person of the Year 2012, while broadcaster Vincent Browne has received a lifetime achievement award.
Mrs O’Donnell, the chairperson of Limerick Tidy Towns, was announced as the 2012 winner at a gala awards lunch in the Clarion Hotel this afternoon.
Mrs O’Donnell was nominated among 11 other outstanding Limerick people including internationally acclaimed author Kevin Barry; retired Garda Inspector John O’Reilly; Novas Initiatives Street Outreach volunteers; Limerick FC chairman Pat O’Sullivan; local photographer Gerry Andrews and the lead scientist on a project to develop the early detection of Alzheimer’s, Dr Syed Tofail.
Helen O’Donnell, the wife of former TD and MEP Tom O’Donnell, introduced the concept of entering Limerick as a city into the Tidy Towns competition and is leading the way on improving the look of the urban landscape.
Since the close of 2011, a group of 100 volunteers including business people, retailers and members of the public have been working diligently in a bid to enhance the overall appearance of the city centre.
Accepting the award and speaking in front of an invited audience which included guest of honour, former winner, and president of the European Parliament and current chairman of Limerick City of Culture 2014, Pat Cox, Mrs O’Donnell said she was shocked to be announced 2012 Limerick Person of the Year.
Journalist and broadcaster, Vincent Browne, a native of Broadford, county Limerick spoke of his fondness for his home county while accepting his lifetime achievement award.
The awards are sponsored by the Limerick Leader, Southern Marketing, Design and Media Consultancy and the Clarion Hotel.
The awards were judged by Alan English, Limerick Leader editor; Conn Murray, Limerick City and County manager; Cllr Gerry McLoughlin, Mayor of Limerick and Cllr Jerome Scanlan, Cathaoirleach, Limerick County Council.
Limerick Leader editor 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.
“Helen O’Donnell is someone who has led by example, she’s a woman who just rolled up her sleeves and got on with it. She’s fiercely proud of Limerick city and has done everything she could possibly do to have it looking as well as possible for Limerick people and for visitors alike. We are all very
proud of you Helen, thank you for your huge contribution to your community over the last twelve months.”
Southern director, Dave O’Hora added: “Every year, we see the drive, energy and generosity of people, who play a huge part in the fabric of Limerick. They are an example and encouragement to all and these awards are but a simple and humble recognition of the great things they do and achieve. We have been supporting the awards for over a decade and we are delighted to continue doing so.”
For full coverage and photos, see this weekend’s Limerick Leader print editions