Volunteer of the year saved hundreds of lives

Volunteer of the year David McEvoy helped save the lives of hundreds of people in his community over the last five years.

Volunteer of the Year David McEvoy set up the Birr Community First Responder Group following the death of his father to cardiac arrest

The Offaly man established Birr First Responders in 2012 after saving his father’s life — he knew how to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation, commonly known as CPR.

David was only trained in CPR three weeks when his father suffered a cardiac arrest at home. He was able to use the technique for 42 minutes until help arrived.

Although his father passed away the following month, David was able to give him a few more precious weeks to be with his family.

Birr First Responders has answered 568 calls since it was established and has made a significant impact on the community.

David was a member of the fire service until illness meant he could no longer continue. He now spends all his time with an 18-member responder group.

“The best thing you can ever do in life is to help one person or save a life,” he said.

David is also passionate about training the community in CPR and has taught methods to more than 500 schoolchildren in Birr.

One of the many nominations for David stated: “Many people are still walking around Birr who have David to thank for his prompt and accurate intervention, and many families didn’t have to stand alone when facing the worst moments of their life.”

Volunteer Ireland is the national volunteer development agency and a support body for all local volunteer centres and volunteering information services in Ireland.

Spokeswoman Amy Woods said there were 32 outstanding volunteers shortlisted from 500 nominations who attended the awards ceremony last night in Dublin City Hall.

Ms Woods said Irish people were very good at giving their time for the benefit of others and contributing to their community.

Alfie and Marcie Streete, from Cork, were one of the nine category award winners. The couple have worked with Chernobyl Children International for the last 20 years.

They were among the first families in Ireland to open their doors and hearts to children from the Chernobyl regions. Alfie has travelled to Belarus 19 times to deliver aid.

“We don’t do it for the glory; we do it because we like to do it. I just feel we have to be good to the children,” said Marcie.

Alfie said they might not be able to change the world, but they could help the children.

“By the end of their holidays in Ireland, they’re like different children. We might not have the sunshine but we have the heart.”

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