A WEST Cork volunteer has received recognition for her selfless voluntary work within the local community in Schull.
Nuala Hegarty, who along with her husband, ran a butcher’s shop in Schull for many years, is actively involved with West Cork Community Care, Meals on Wheels, and the Care and Repair community service within the greater Schull hinterland.
She was recently named Cork’s RedFM Unsung Hero in recognition of her voluntary work and was presented with a Renault Captur from Keary’s Carstore for use over the next year as she becomes their brand ambassador for 2021.
The competition saw RedFM and Keary’s Carstore ask members of the public to nominate someone in their community who had gone above and beyond for others during the current uncertain times.
“I was contacted to say that I had been nominated and they were going to do the draw live. I was asked to stay close to my phone. I had no idea. Hundreds of names had been nominated. It only registered when they did a big build-up that maybe I had won,” explained Ms Hegarty.
Ms Hegarty, who is from Aughadown, moved to Schull after she got married.
“I am married 42 years. I didn’t move very far. There is a great community spirit in Schull and the Mizen. There are good people everywhere. We are fortunate to have so many good volunteers willing to give their time and help out.”
She has been volunteering for a number of years. “It is nice to help out and give back to the local community. I love it. I am at it for years now. I have the time and the interest. It is important to help out anytime. I always feel if you don’t give back, you don’t get anything. I get so much out of it,” she added.
Ms Hegarty is a director and treasurer of Schull Community Care and volunteers at the Community Care Centre, which delivers over 140 hot meals to people on a daily basis.
The volunteers not only provide nourishing meals, but they also provide social contact.
The centre also runs a social club with various events held there such as bingo, morning exercise classes, and arts and crafts.
She said that she is thrilled to be able to help so many people in their community.
“It is nice to help out the less fortunate and more vulnerable people in society. Ellen Logan works with me, she is fantastic. We co-ordinate the kitchen and the Meals on Wheels. You can’t do it without help.
“The more people who avail of the services the better we are able to run the service. If they didn’t take it, we couldn’t do it. It is easier and more economical to do 60 meals than 20.
“Community Care is a great outlet. Our social interaction has been curtailed unfortunately with Covid-19. We used to have people getting the bus down from Cork City to Schull every Thursday for the activities in the social centre.”
Ms Hegarty said that she is very grateful for all donations and assistance the group receives, which enables the team to successfully help out within the community.
“Aldi and Lidl give us Food Cloud. They are brilliant and they don’t get much recognition. We use what we can for Meals on Wheels. There are also two fantastic women, Nicki and Ruth, who cook for the homeless in Cork City, so I give them a good bit of food also to carry up for the homeless.”
The tireless voluntary worker is also a member of the Mizen Care and Repair committee, which helps residents and people with disabilities with small jobs in their homes, such as cutting the grass, cleaning gutters and changing light bulbs.
She is glad to provide comfort to people in these challenging times.
“Mizen Care and Repair are going well. Two volunteers go in and assist the elderly. There is a lot of loneliness out there. It is tough for people on their own. Providing social interaction is also vital.
“We are trying our best to have a bit of fun while doing it. There is a huge team there and everybody works well together."
Ms Hegarty is still coming to terms with the nature of her recent shock win.
“It was amazing. It was a huge shock. I had no expectations at all. It was such a huge and proud moment for both my family and I,” she said.
The modest volunteer was keen to acknowledge the importance of her fellow team members, who all contribute immensely to the great community work within their local area.
“It is a great reflection on the group that I am involved in. It is a team effort and win. I am only one part of a strong and committed group. I wouldn’t be able to do anything without everyone pulling together. It is a complete team effort.”