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Big wins for High Hopes Choir and Park Rangers at National Good Causes Awards

An inspiring choir and rural football club in Waterford have scooped top honours at the National Lottery Good Causes Awards 2022.

Waterford High Hopes Choir won the Arts and Culture category on Saturday night (October 1st) taking home an amazing €10,000.

The choir was set up 2014 with members from McGuire House Men’s Hostel, Focus Ireland, Simon Community, Tintain and Oasis women’s refuge.

The choir empowers its members, whose lives have been affected by homelessness, through music and enables them to work in the community by singing at events.

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Damien O'Sullivan, reacted to the win on Saturday night:

"There tonight, sitting down, we're just happy to be here, its an amazing event. To be recognised and hear Waterford High Hopes mentioned at the Good Causes Awards its amazing. And to hear our name coming out (as winner of the Arts and Culture category), I nearly had to be picked up off the floor."

Park Rangers AFC topped the Sport category on Saturday night, also scooping €10,000.

Park Rangers is a rural club made up of 434 members, 77 voluntary coaches and 31 teams. The club has a 32% female participation rate and their Female Focus Campaign provides adequate toilets for female participation. In addition, the Female Focus Campaign addressed a key barrier to female participation in sport - the Menstrual Cycle. Park Rangers AFC is the first amateur club in Ireland to provide ongoing training workshops to members and coaches on the menstrual cycle and provide free sanitary products in toilets and in first aid kits.

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Michael Cox, Past Chairperson of Park Rangers and founder of the Female Focus Campaign reacted to the win:

"Well to be honest with you, we're completely flabbergasted because the group before was a Waterford winner and we were hellbent sure that this would be a geographical spread of winners. So when we saw the Waterford winners up there our hopes were sort of subdued. So when our name was called we were particular surprised, delighted the lot!"

The National Lottery Good Causes Awards honour the inspiring work and achievements of thousands of projects, clubs and individuals from all over Ireland who, with the help of National Lottery Good Causes funding, have had an extraordinary impact on their local communities.

Monaghan-based, Cú Chulainn Blood Bikes was named National Lottery Good Cause of the Year and also won the Community category at the National Lottery Good Causes Awards ceremony which was held in Killsahee House Hotel in Co.Kildare on October 1st.

The Cú Chulainn Blood Bikes are a voluntary organisation who transport blood samples, covid samples, breast milk for premature babies, medical supplies and blood for terminally ill children throughout local hospitals in Monaghan, Louth, Cavan and Meath.

The National Lottery funding which is distributed through the HSE has enabled Cú Chulainn Blood Bikes to change one of their vehicles which had high mileage on it to a newer model. The impact on the community was immense as it enabled them to continue to save lives and answer their calls quicker.

This year’s Good Causes Awards ceremony took place in Killashee House Hotel in Co.Kildare. Grainne Seoige hosted the event and was joined by an array of familiar faces to present each of the awards to the category winners.

Cú Chulainn Blood Bikes were presented with their community award by Nuala Carey and Minister Michael McGrath had the honour of presenting the group with the overall Good Cause of the year award.

The Awards have seven categories: Sport, Health & Wellbeing, Heritage, Arts & Culture, Community, Youth and Irish Language. A brand-new award category, ‘Hero of the Year’, was created this year to recognise outstanding work done by an individual within an organisation. This year’s winner was Josie Reynolds, volunteer with the Melting Pot Community Society in Co. Roscommon.

The seven category winners each received €10,000; the Hero of the Year received €5,000 and the overall Good Cause of the Year, Cú Chulainn Blood Bikes received an additional €25,000.

Andrew Algeo, Chief Executive of the National Lottery said: “I would like to congratulate all of the volunteers at Cú Chulainn Blood Bikes as well as our other category winners who’ve all had a massive impact on the ground within each of their communities. It is such an inspiration to see how tirelessly these people work and how much time they dedicate daily for the benefit of others. It’s been an honour to share the stage with such a variety of groups who benefit from Good Causes funding.”

This year’s National Lottery Good Causes Award winners are:

National Lottery Good Causes of the Year and Community winner: Cú Chulainn Blood Bikes (Monaghan)

Heritage: Lough Grainey Nature Sanctuary (Clare/Galway)

Sport: Park Rangers AFC - Female Focus Campaign (Waterford)

Irish Language: Gaillimh le Gaeilge (Galway)

Youth: The Rainbow Club (Cork)

Health and well-being: Strandhill Community Park

Arts & Culture: Waterford High Hopes Choir (Waterford)

Hero of the Year: Josie Reynolds, Volunteer, The Melting Pot Community Society, (Co. Roscommon)

Nearly 30 cent in every €1 spent on all National Lottery games goes back to Good Causes in the areas of sport, youth, health, welfare, education, arts, heritage and the Irish Language. In total more than €6 Billion has been raised for Good Causes since the National Lottery was established 35 years ago. In 2021 alone, a record-breaking €304 million was raised for local Good Causes in communities across Ireland.

For all the latest news in Waterford, click here.

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