Team player Pauline is ‘Volunteer of the Year’
TOP HONOUR PICKS UP SHOP AWARD AT AGE OF 83-AND-A-HALF
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.