n the end, in a crowded field, our search for Greystones Local Hero 2021 eventually came down to just a handful.
Naturally, each and every person nominated deserved to win – along with all those around here who prefer to do their good deeds off-radar.
Still, it was nice to see so many inspirational people all in one place, being given a slap on the back and a round of applause. From Michelle Power’s miraculous drive organising volunteer groups and initiatives as Covid-19 left older people vulnerable and alone to Orla Finn’s boundless enthusiasm when it came to spreading positive news and the good word on what was going on in the entire county, here was that community spirit shining bright.
And what of those keeping us fed and medicated, from the supermarket staff who worked through the pandemic, delivering us our daily bread and booze, to chemists such as Fiona Roche and David Dodd, going above and beyond what it said on the tablet jar to make sure that not even the most isolated of us was left behind on their daily doses.
And then there’s Benny Taglienti, battling Motor Neuron Disease since August 2017, and today, despite being in an ever-encroaching lockdown, had nothing but happiness and hopeto share with all us miserable fools moaning about having to queue for Cherry White Hazelnuts gelato.
In the final week, it turned into a race to the finish line between Colette Talbot and Conor Power. Colette does incredible work for the homeless, heading into Dublin each weekend, rounding up supplies from all corners to make sure others have a decent meal and warm clothes. For his part, Conor is the 17-year-old lifeguard whoquickly jumpedinto the freezing cold Irish sea last November when it became clear to him that a swimmer was having trouble battling against the brewing storm and rising waves.
Presenting Conor with his framed award this evening – along with his winner’s dinner-for-two at his favourite Greystones eaterie, Bochelli’s plus a €150pair of professional swimmers earplugs from young Michelle – he was as humble as ever. “I really don’t deserve this,” he said. “The others on the list have done so much more than me. Colette, Michelle, and everyone else are heroes every day – I just did what anyone else would have done if they saw someone in trouble…”
Boom! A big thank you to the bould Niamh O’Leary fromAIB Greystones, the competition sponsors, who joined us this evening.
Not sure we could have given the Local Hero 2021 award to a sweeter guy…
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