Cork volunteer Kate Durrant named Ireland's most inspirational person

Cork volunteer Kate Durrant named Ireland's most inspirational person

She has saved several lives and transformed countless more - now this remarkable charity dynamo has been hailed Ireland's most inspirational person.

Kate Durrant, who lives in Blarney, Co Cork, who volunteers to help groups like Blarney Community First Responders, Pieta House, St Vincent de Paul, Dogs for the Disabled, and her local tidy towns group, played down her achievement in the first ever Gala Retail Inspiration Awards.

“It’s probably one of the nicest things that's happened to me. I am mortified and thrilled in equal measure,” she said.

“But this award isn’t really about me. It’s about the work and it’s about those who work alongside me, and those in every community in Ireland who do the same kind of work - you know those who walk in when others walk out - and who do it quietly and with humility, day in, day out.

“It’s easy to give your time, to pack a hamper, to foster an assistance dog. The hard thing is to be in that position to have to accept a hamper, or to be in need of an assistance dog.

"I hope this awards scheme shines a light on those doing this work.”

Kate Durrant with Deborah Lynch who pioneered the Blarney Community First Responders scheme.
Kate Durrant with Deborah Lynch who pioneered the Blarney Community First Responders scheme.

Following nominations by friends and neighbours, Ms Durrant was presented with the Inspiration in the Community award but she went on to scoop the overall Inspirational Person of the Year which was presented by former Ireland International, footballer Niall Quinn.

The judging panel described her as a true community champion who works tirelessly to make a difference in her hometown of Blarney.

Ms Durrant said: “To be born on this side of the world, to be healthy, to be loved, to have a roof over your head and a full fridge is to win the lotto every single day. When you’re born that lucky, you have to try and pass it on."

With the help of her friends, Ms Durrant organised Blarney’s Darkness into Light walk which has raised more than €100,000 for suicide bereavement charity, Pieta House, over the last three years.

She set up the Blarney Community First Responders group, with with her friend, Deborah Lynch, following the sudden death of three local residents.

Their team of volunteers, who are available to respond to cardiac arrest incidents until emergency services arrive, have saved several lives in the area, including an American tourist who suffered a heart attack at the top of Blarney Castle. She's also a church warden and a member of the board of management of Scoil Mhuire gan Smal.

Kate Durrant, winner of the Overall Inspirational Person of the Year Award pictured with Gary Desmond, CEO of Gala Retail (left) and Gerry Lennon, Commercial Director of Independent News & Media at the Sunday Independent / Gala Retail Inspiration Awards 2019. Photo Iain White / Fennell Photography 2019
Kate Durrant, winner of the Overall Inspirational Person of the Year Award pictured with Gary Desmond, CEO of Gala Retail (left) and Gerry Lennon, Commercial Director of Independent News & Media at the Sunday Independent / Gala Retail Inspiration Awards 2019. Photo Iain White / Fennell Photography 2019

Youghal woman, Dr Sinead Kane, was presented with the Inspiration in Sports award.

Despite having just 5%, Ms Kane was the first blind person to complete seven marathons in seven days on seven continents. She is also a double Guinness World Record Holder, having completed the furthest distance for a female on a treadmill in 12 hours, covering the ground of approximately three marathons.

“Kate and the fellow winners are true examples of people who are making Ireland a better place for us all,” Gala Retail CEO Gary Desmond said.

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