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Sinead Mortell from Ennis who was named ‘Volunteer of the Year’

Clare people feature strongly in Water Safety Ireland awards

A SURFER who rescued a swimmer caught off the Clare shore by a rip current and an Ennis lifeguard named Volunteer of the Year were among those honoured at Water Safety Ireland’s national awards.

Patrick Gordon’s quick actions saved the life of a man in difficulty at Spanish Point last summer.

He received a SEIKO Just In Time Awards and Rescue Appreciation Award at the annual ceremony which was held online.

Last July, Patrick was out surfing in strong winds with a friend at Spanish Point.

They heard a swimmer shouting for help after getting pulled from shore by a rip current.

He immediately paddled towards the swimmer and told his friend to make for shore to get help.

Patrick took his friend’s board, reached the exhausted swimmer, and got him to hold onto the board until he regained his breath and was able to make it safely back to shore.

Also honoured on the night was Sinead Mortell from Ennis who was named ‘Volunteer of the Year’.

Detailing her accomplishments at the ceremony, host Miriam O’Callaghan said, “Sinead can be described as an all-round WSI volunteer, qualifying as lifeguard and giving back to her community in Clare as a water safety Instructor and examiner.

“Sinead also runs training courses for aspiring instructors and conducts Risk Assessments to ensure that our waterways are safe for swimming.

“As a lifesaving sport competitor Sinead has successfully represented both her county and country and competed as a Master in this year’s World Lifesaving Championships in Italy.

“She continues to coach other competitors, is also a qualified Rescue Boat Driver and somehow found time to be secretary of the local Water Safety Area Committee. Sinead reflects all that is positive about being a volunteer and is a very deserving recipient of Volunteer of the Year, 2022. Congratulations Sinead.”

Sinead was among a number of members of Clare Water Safety to be presented with awards at the ceremony.

Pamela McGrath was given a long service award in recognition of her voluntary commitment to promoting a public awareness of water safety and rescue based on the humanitarian goal of saving life.

While Ferdia Hayes, Leana Liddane and Oisin O’Grady who represented their country in The World Lifesaving Championships in Italy were among those to receive Sports Persons of the Year Awards.

St Anne’s Community College in Killaloe was presented with a WISE award. Ireland’s secondary school Water Insight Safety and Education (WISE) programme was launched in 2022. It gives pupils the knowledge they need to stay safe.

Project work encourages pupils to highlight local dangers and help make their communities safer.

Teacher Rosie Foley appeared on a filmed segment of the online awards where she stressed the importance of learning about water safety for all ages and of the enthusiasm her students have had for the programme.

Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys acknowledged the recipients of the ‘Seiko Just in Time Rescue Award’ and other awards.

“I am deeply honoured to pay tribute to these deserving award recipients”, she added.

Paying tribute to those presented with Long-Service Volunteer Awards she said, “I want to say to the people who coach and train people in swimming and lifesaving all over the country; you too are saving lives by enabling others to do so. 

“Without the coaches, the trainers and the teachers, we would not have the large volume of lifesavers around our country that we can be so proud of.”

Clare McGrath, chair of Water Safety Ireland said she was “particularly proud” of all the recipients for two reasons.

“Firstly, the rescue awards highlight great news stories that could have ended differently and secondly, our Long Service Awards remind us of the value of our volunteers and the work that they do in their communities teaching skills that keep people safe.”

She said that the ceremony, “is a celebration of our many volunteers throughout the country. Water Safety Ireland is built on the amazing achievements of all our hard-working volunteers.”

Water Safety Ireland CEO Joanne Walsh stated, “I would ask that we all remain aware of the dangers of drowning”.

“Drownings can happen quickly and silently but with the right knowledge, skills and attitudes everyone can avoid the hazards and take responsibility for their own safety.

“Start a water safety conversation with your family, friends and colleagues and encourage them to read Water Safety Ireland’s guidelines at www.watersafety.ie so they can enjoy Ireland’s waterways safely.”

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