Offaly Volunteer Centre officially opened its doors at Bury Quay, Tullamore, on Friday, March 4th. As chairperson Martin Buckley, founder member of Pullough Community Shop which recently won the ‘Unsung Hero of Offaly’ award, said, “The future of Offaly volunteering is well and truly established and I am proud to be part of something that is outstanding.”

– Volunteers have 461 groups to choose from
– Official launch by Minister

He said it gave him “great pleasure to be able to showcase what we have to offer” adding that, over the last two tough years, volunteering showed that “small acts of kindness can still have a huge positive significance.

Zsé Varga, volunteer centre development manager with the national organisation Volunteer Ireland, said, “The project was funded by the Department of Rural and Community Development and my role was to get the people around the table, which we did and we now have a really good board – versatile and enthusiastic. They worked as volunteers for months in the evenings to make this magic happen.”

Deirdre Fox, Offaly Volunteer Centre manager, said of the board, “They are an incredible, selfless board that work tirelessly for the development and spirit of volunteering in Offaly.” She described the new centre as a “bright, inviting and welcoming headquarters for the community of County Offaly” and thanked Offaly Local Development Company, which for many years provided a county volunteer service, for helping them to transform that service to become Offaly Volunteer Centre.

• Among the many councillors at the opening were Cllrs. Clare Claffey & Cllr. Mark Hackett pictured here with manager Deirdre Fox (centre). Photo by Ray Lucey.

Minister of State for Land Use and Biodiversity, Pippa Hackett said, that it was volunteering that brought her initially into politics and emphasised that, “the acknowledgement and recognition of volunteers is really important to keep things going.”

Minister of State for Community Development and Charities, Joe O’Brien, acknowledged all stakeholders and especially the board of Offaly Volunteer Centre “as without their dedication and vision the Offaly Volunteer Centre would not be here today.” He said, “It is a milestone on a significant journey [to go] from a Volunteer Information Service to a full Volunteer Centre.”

Offaly already has a vibrant volunteer network with 461 groups registered with the Offaly Public Participation Network (PPN). The Offaly Volunteer Centre liases with the PPN and will promote increased awareness and connections between volunteers and organisations. All in all it will bring the concept of volunteering in the Faithful County to new heights.