Team player Pauline is ‘Vol­un­teer of the Year’


Bray People - - Out And About - Mary FOG­A­RTY

PAULINE Smyth, whose friendly face has been be­hind the counter in Bray’s MS shop for the past 17 years, has won ‘Vol­un­teer of the Year,’ at the age of 83 and a half. (The half, it is said, is very im­por­tant to Pauline.)

She ac­cepted her award yes­ter­day in the Stil­lor­gan Park Ho­tel, af­ter be­ing nom­i­nated by man­ager of the char­ity shop, Deirdre O’Brien.

Pauline has be­come an in­te­gral part of the everyday run­ning of the shop over the last 17 years, and can of­ten be seen hav­ing her af­ter­noon cof­fee in the nearby Fin­bees – sur­rounded by a group of friends highly en­ter­tained by her sharp wit and con­ta­gious laugh.

A res­i­dent of Con­nolly Square, Pauline was there at the very start and was in­volved with the set­ting up of the MS shop. She be­came the first shop vol­un­teer, work­ing two af­ter­noons a week for eight years.

In the past nine years she has worked ev­ery sin­gle Satur­day morn­ing come hail, rain or snow.

She takes a well-earned break ev­ery Novem­ber when she trav­els on her own to visit her sons in Bos­ton.

Her fam­ily mem­bers are ex­tremely sup­port­ive of her work with MS Ire­land, of­ten mak­ing do­na­tions and also mak­ing sure she gets to the shop by or­gan­is­ing to taxi for her when weather con­di­tions are bad.Her own life has not been without its tragedy. In 1979, when she was preg­nant with her tenth child, Pauline’s hus­band and el­dest daugh­ter were killed in a traf­fic acci- dent in Wick­low

She car­ried on with strength and re­silience and raised her sur­viv­ing chil­dren. She says her pos­i­tive at­ti­tude, sense of hu­mour and her ‘fags,’ and cof­fee have kept her go­ing.

‘She has a re­mark­ably up­beat at­ti­tude which she brings to the at­mos­phere in the shop,’ said Deirdre. ‘For a per­son of her years she has an amaz­ing ca­pac­ity for change with a prac­ti­cal ‘can-do’ ap­proach to any task she un­der­takes.

Those who know Pauline know an out­go­ing and peo­ple­ori­ented per­son, with an ex­cel­lent rep­u­ta­tion for pro­fes­sional cus­tomer fo­cus, which she has passed on to the other mem­bers of the team. ‘She is a team-player,’ said her proud man­ager. ‘She has the abil­ity to build trust and in­ter­act with all kinds of peo­ple.’

Deirdre ad­mires Pauline’s strength and courage, re­mark­ing that her pos­i­tive in­flu­ence on the peo­ple around her re­ally stands out. ‘She is a great role model,’ said Deirdre.

The award is pre­sented ev­ery year in mem­ory of Martin Kenny who worked for the Na­tional Coun­cil for the Blind in Ire­land and was a founder mem­ber of the Ir­ish Char­ity Shop As­so­ci­a­tion. It is awarded to the vol­un­teer who has shown ex­cep­tional com­mit­ment and per­for­mance, and who has made a real dif­fer­ence to the shop where they worked. The en­tries were judged by Vol­un­teer­ing Ire­land and the pre­sen­ta­tion was made at the Ir­ish Char­ity Shop As­so­ci­a­tion Con­fer­ence yes­ter­day in Stil­lor­gan.

‘She is the face of the MS Char­ity shop in Bray,’ said Deirdre. ‘We are very lucky to have her.’

Ir­ish Char­ity Shops As­so­ci­a­tion Vol­un­teer of the Year Pauline Smyth at the M.S. shop on Bray’s Main Street.

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