"I have faced unexpected challenges in the past... there’s no time to waste in working to overcome a set back.

Ahead of the Network Ireland Business woman of the Year Awards, on October 2, EMMA CONNOLLY talks to the Cork finalists, for WoW!
"I have faced unexpected challenges in the past... there’s no time to waste in working to overcome a set back.

Winner of the Power Within Champion Trudy McQuaid of Enable Ireland at the 2020 Network Ireland Cork Businesswoman of the Year Awards, sponsored by Brown Thomas. The winners across all categories will go forward for the Network Ireland Business Awards on 2 October. Picture Darragh Kane

Trudy McQuaid Network Cork, Power Within Champion award

FUNDRAISING for Enable Ireland, which supports over 900 children and adults with disabilities in Cork, has been devastated by Covid-19.

When the pandemic hit, staff worked tirelessly to deliver their vital services virtually, with enormous success.

But with all scheduled and future fundraisers wiped out, there’s no avoiding the fact that they must raise €1m for their new centre in Curraheen, which they moved into last year.

On top of that they’ve been hit with a significant loss in funding due to the temporary closure of their 21 charity shops and cancellation of traditional fundraising events.

It’s just as well that someone like Trudy McQuaid is the Cork Fundraising & Events Coordinator for the charity.

When she was presented with Network Cork’s Power Within Champion award, judges commented: “This woman’s positivity and energy stand out as her defining characteristics. She has used her various talents from previous careers all to positive effect to help others. She is generous with her time and displays huge empathy for those suffering during lockdown. I imagine she energises the team wherever she goes.”

Originally from Castletownbere, Trudy who started in the role last October said it allows her to combine her passion for psychology with her passion for event planning.

“I’m so glad to have found a career that encompasses these two things,” she said.

Obviously she could never have planned for Covid but said: “I have faced unexpected challenges in the past, professionally and personally, so I know there’s no time to waste in working to overcome a set back. There’s an eerie sense of solidarity in knowing that this isn’t just affecting me or my colleagues, it’s affecting everyone - on a global scale, and there’s not much we can do about it other than to stay strong and adapt.” So with all their traditional fundraising events such as golf classics, ladies lunches and gala balls cancelled, she’s had to totally transform their model of fundraising from in person events to virtual initiatives.

“As a fundraiser you constantly need to think on your feet and develop new ways of doing things. We proudly launched our first ever digital fundraiser called the Wheel 100 Challenge, a national campaign that was coordinated locally in Cork. It’s very different from the usual events that we organise, but following on the success of this event we have two more digital fundraisers coming up in Autumn; a sale of new and pre-loved jewellery and a Wild Atlantic Way sale of Art.

“I’m really looking forward to our two upcoming events. Jewellers all over Ireland are kindly donating new pieces for the sale of jewellery but we are also asking supporters if they can help. If you have one good quality piece to donate (or even broken items which can be repaired or may have value) I’d be delighted to hear from you!

“I’m also very excited about the Wild Atlantic Way sale of art, I grew up along the Beara Peninsula and have seen first-hand the wildness and beauty at play in our surroundings and how local artists exquisitely capture the essence of our rugged landscapes. Both events will be launched in time for Christmas so it’s the ideal chance to buy a beautiful and unique gift for someone close to you and support a local cause.” 

Trudy said she was ‘blown away’ at winning the Power Within Champion award.

“To me it represents our ability to adapt and respond to the challenges we face in our lives, both professional and personal. It means exploring how we can draw on our personal strengths and the support of friends, family and colleagues to work through difficult times together.

“Our motto is ‘Life with no Limits’ and every day I see and hear stories of the incredible resilience and adaptability by service users who draw on their power within to live life with no limits. I feel this award is something to be shared among everyone who has struggled over the past few months but who is adapting, surviving and who will emerge stronger.” 

Enable Ireland’s annual ‘Life With No Limits’ campaign takes place from 19-30 September this year. The public can support Enable Ireland’s services for over 9,200 children and adults with disabilities by purchasing Life With No Limits merchandise from Enable Ireland’s 21 charity shops nationwide or by donating online at www.enableireland.ie.

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