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Clare Crusaders show their Pride of Place

CLARE Crusaders has received national recognition after being named one of the winners in Cooperation Ireland’s Pride of Place Competition.

From left: Christopher Moran, chairperson, Cooperation Ireland; Ian Falconer, Clare Crusaders; Tom Dowling, county manager, Meath County Council; Liz Falconer, Clare Crusaders; Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government Phil Hogan; Ann Norton, Clare Crusaders; Cathal Brodie, Clare Crusaders; Councillor PJ Ryan, Leas-Mhéara, Clare County Council and Bernadette Kinsella, director of services, Clare County Council.  Photograph by Christy Farrell
At a weekend award ceremony held in Wexford, Clare Crusaders received a special award under the category Community Health Initiative, for which the clinic received a Waterford Crystal Trophy and €500.
The other Clare entrant, Loop Head Tourism, was short-listed in the All-Ireland competition, which aims to recognise contributions that community groups make to society.
Pride of Place is an all-island competition organised by Cooperation Ireland and it is the ninth year of the competition.  It was established to acknowledge in a meaningful manner the selfless work being done by people in communities all over the island of Ireland. It recognises work being done to create communities for tomorrow, while respecting the heritage and culture of the past and work being carried out to create caring, viable, vibrant and visible communities. It is also an opportunity for communities to tell their story of the pride they have in their place or project to experienced judges.
The competition also gives local authorities an opportunity to participate in the heart of their communities because they have a responsibility to build complete communities. Previous Clare award recipients include Kilnaboy Youth Club in 2009 and Tuamgraney Development Association in 2008.
Mayor of Clare Councillor Pat Hayes described the success of Clare Crusaders as a wonderful example of what can be achieved by adopting a partnership approach to improving community life. He went on to say that Clare Crusaders are an exceptional organisation and their work is truly valuable for the everyday lives of families with special needs children.
“I would like to compliment the Clare Crusaders and Loop Head Tourism, Clare’s other participant in Pride of Place for their valuable work to further improve the lives of those who live in, work and visit their respective communities. They should also be commended for their commitment to working closely with their communities, public representatives, local business, Clare County Council and other bodies,” he continued.
According to Clare Crusaders co-founder, Ann Norton, the awards are a tribute to everyone who contributed to the group’s success, including those who helped out during the Pride of Place presentation and Clare County Council. She also paid tribute to all the volunteers who contribute so much of their personal time to fundraising and organising events.
Clare Crusaders was set up by parents of children with special needs to provide therapy to children with cerebral palsy, autism, Down Syndrome and other conditions. The clinic is run on a voluntary basis by parents and provides a variety of therapies to over 170 children.  Some of the free services provided include speech therapy, occupational therapy, special needs education, physiotherapy and reflexology.
Clare Crusaders does not receive any government funding and relies on fundraising and personal donations to keep the needed service going.
Bernadette Kinsella, director of services, housing social and cultural, Clare County Council, added, “This competition focuses on local communities and voluntary organisations, both north and south of the border, coming together to shape, improve and enjoy all that is good about their area. Groups have the opportunity to network, exchange ideas and learn from others and further promote their activities.”
Since its inception in 2004, Clare communities that have participated in the Pride of Place competition include Kilnaboy, Kilrush, Kilkee, Newmarket-on-Fergus, Ennis, Labasheeda, Shannon, Tuamgraney, Miltown Malbay, Sixmilebridge, Ballynacally, Scariff, Kilfenora, O’Briensbridge, and Lough Graney.


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