Secret Millionaire star John Concannon has worked tirelessly for two years to open a Pieta House for people in crisis in the West of Ireland. The charity is aiming to have a service within 100km of every person in Ireland.
The Community Foundation for Ireland hailed Mr Concannon for finding a premises in his hometown of Tuam, Co Galway, and raising the €250,000 needed to run it for a year.
“Suicide is rampant in the west and something needs to be done about it,” he said. “If this helps to save one person then it’s a job well done. That’s all we are trying to do.”
The plastic manufacturing tycoon said Pieta House West should be up and running in April after planning permission for renovations were approved in recent weeks.
It will serve people at risk of suicide across Galway, Mayo, Roscommon, and Sligo.
Pieta House has supported more than 6,000 people since it opened in Dublin in 2006.
Mr Concannon paid tribute to fundraisers across all the counties for supporting the new service and television bosses for putting Pieta House in the spotlight.
“They showed people there’s a way out, there’s hope, and that we can work our way out of trouble and problems.”
Tina Roche, CEO of Community Foundation for Ireland, which promotes philanthropy, said it was from both the head and the heart.
“It focuses on results, on the longer term and on sustainability. We hope that potential philanthropists out there will be inspired by today’s winners and think about setting up their own family or personal fund with the Foundation in 2013 as we can provide them with the mechanism for truly planned and strategic giving.”
Elsewhere, Mairead Sorensen, chairwoman of Butlers Chocolates, was named international philanthropist of the year for her work with the Hope Foundation in Kolkata, India. Vodafone Ireland Foundation was corporate philanthropist of the year for the World of Difference programme.
Former winners include JP McManus, Mark FitzGerald, Declan Ryan, and Chantal McCabe.