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Clare Champion reporter , Dan Danaher, who won a Local Ireland award.

Three awards for Champion

IT was a super Wednesday for the Clare Champion, as three awards came to the paper, with prizes for reporters Fiona McGarry and Dan Danaher, as well as photographer John Kelly.

At the Headline Mental Health Media Awards Fiona McGarry was winner in the Local Print and Online category for her story’ Letting light shine for fellow survivors’ which was described as “honest, heartfelt and compelling’.

Fiona McGarry

It explored Martin Vernon’s progression through various supports towards his own recovery, following an incidence of sexual violence against him.

Fiona said she was very grateful to Martin for sharing his story. “I’m delighted to win the award and I’m very thankful to the editorial team for their support with the story. Most of all I’m thankful to Martin Vernon for his bravery and honesty in sharing a very difficult story. I think he hopes and I hope that it will take some of the stigma away from the issue of male sexual assault and encourage other survivors to come forward to Rape Crisis Midwest.”

Fiona also praised Headline, which she said does amazing work in helping journalists to cover sensitive mental health issues, in a way that encourages other people to come forward and seek support.

At the Local Ireland awards, which recognise the best in regional journalism, Dan Danaher walked away with the prize for Best Community Story.

Dan took the honour for coverage of the plight of residents of Springfield, Clonlara, where people have been forced to live with a constant threat of flooding to their homes.

While thrilled to have taken the award, Dan made sure to credit the people of the area.”I want to thank the residents of Springfield for sharing their battle of trying to protect their homes. They have experienced the devastation of flooding since the mid 90s and have been living in fear every winter, when flooding is most likely. Some of them are forced to leave their homes because the access road is cut off and others have chosen to remain and try to keep water out. It has been a constant battle for them over the years, thankfully now there is a flood relief scheme and a flood protection embankment being built. Work has been suspended, but will resume next March as I understand it.”

He expressed support for the residents, who have lived in very difficult circumstances for years. “Your home is your castle and while there is a national relocation scheme I think everybody has the right to remain in their home if it’s at all possible and for anyone to see their house being damaged by flooding, it’s a very traumatic and distressing experience.”

John Kelly, PPAI award winner.
John Kelly, award winner.

Also at the Local Ireland Awards, John Kelly took the award for Best Photograph, for his image The Village Blacksmith.

Such was the quality of John’s work that he actually had a second photograph which also made the shortlist for the prize.

Having been named as the winner John said his thoughts were with his father Christy who passed away in January, and with former Clare Champion photographer Declan Monaghan, who died in August. “I’d like to dedicate it to the memory of Declan, he would have been one of the first to ring to congratulate me, we’d have been over and back about photography, having worked together for a number of years. Also to the memory of my father, who died earlier this year too.”

About Owen Ryan

Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.