It may be strange for many to begin looking at the Covid-19 crisis in the rear-view mirror - and for many others, that simply isn't an option - but what will surely be remembered as a defining event in modern history was hallmarked by the stories and sights of ordinary people rising to the challenge of others' needs at the very outset of public health restrictions.
Such people, from individuals to community groups, have been recognised by Cork's County Mayor Cllr Gillian Coughlan, the manager of the Cork Volunteer Centre, Adam Lacey, and Chief Executive of Cork County Council, Tim Lucey, with more than 120 guests in attendance at a special event at Cork County Hall last Thursday to coincide with National Volunteer Week 2022.
Speaking at the event, Cllr Coughlan said: "It was amazing to see how quickly communities, groups and individual volunteers came together in March of 2020. They ensured that the most vulnerable and those in need received support despite the risk posed by the virus.
"The volunteers we are recognising provided a most critical role on the ground in every town and village in County Cork. They queued outside supermarkets picking up the weekly shopping for neighbours, they delivered food parcels, fuel and meals-on-wheels, and became a vital lifeline for those who were cocooning or living alone."
Local authorities, public participation networks and volunteer organisations were asked to nominate people from their communities who made a contribution during the pandemic through a dedicated Volunteer Ireland nomination web portal. A wide range of nominations were received on behalf of individuals and groups, including sports clubs, Meals on Wheels, and branches of the Red Cross and Civil Defence.
Adam Lacey, who joined in the presenting of special commemorative pins and letters of recognition to the nominated volunteers, said: "While the pandemic presented a plethora of new challenges for community groups across Cork, we also saw a tremendous number of people stepping up to offer their support.
"We applaud all volunteers for their efforts through these trying times, and our thanks go to Cork County Council, and the Department of Rural and Community Development for recognising the efforts of these worthy volunteers."
Chief Executive of Cork County Council, Tim Lucey added, "Our Covid-19 Community Support Programme was incredibly effective throughout the pandemic. It brought together a wide variety of statutory and voluntary groups in County Cork to help those in need in a collaborative and targeted way.
"Almost 10,000 requests were made to the support programme with people looking for assistance with collecting groceries, meals, medical and health needs, social isolation and delivering library books.
"The volunteers who answered the call and stepped up were central to its success and once again shows what can be achieved when we all work together."