VOLUNTEERS in the Strabane area who have been devoting their time to helping the local community during the COVID-19 pandemic have been rewarded for their efforts.
At a special recognition event last week, the Kathleen Graham Trust handed out over £4,450 of Strabane gift card vouchers to 89 local volunteers in recognition of their tireless work helping others through the crisis.
Anne O'Neill, chairperson of the Kathleen Graham Trust, was joined by the Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, councillor Brian Tierney, at the presentation event which was held in St Pat's Hall.
Among the groups recognised were Strabane Food Bank, Strabane Community Project, Fountain Street Community Development Association, Strabane Scrubs as well as volunteers in Sion Mills, Glebe, Clady, Victoria Bridge and Douglas Bridge.
Caroline Clarke is a Trustee with the newly established charitable group, which aims to support positive initiatives and individual enterprises of merit in the wider Strabane area.
"It's been very humbling to see how proactive the local community has been in responding to this crisis, the many creative and selfless ways that people have reached out to help others.
"And it's been so rewarding to see how donations from the charity have had such a big impact and how these groups can make the money go such a long way in helping people," she said.
She added: "We've been so inspired by the work being done on the ground that the Trust wanted to acknowledge the contribution of the local volunteers who have had such an essential role in recent months."
One of the recipients was Sion Mills stalwart community worker, Andy Patton, who said he was "absolutely stunned" by the gesture.
"All the groups and volunteers who came forward in the weeks and months after lockdown in the local areas received one of these fantastic vouchers from Anne O'Neill on behalf of the Kathleen Graham Trust.
"This was not expected nor sought for volunteering in our local areas at this strange time by any of the many volunteers who put themselves forward to help.
"A massive thank you from our entire communities here in the village and outlying areas."
Mayor Tierney was also full of praise for the efforts of the volunteers who mobilised in numbers to support the work of community organisations and charities, helping to deliver vital aid to those in need.
He also paid tribute to the charitable trust for their committment to the local area.
"I was delighted to join Mrs Anne O'Neill, chair of the Kathleen Graham Trust, in Strabane to make a special presentation to local volunteers who helped deliver much needed aid during the coronavirus pandemic," he said.
"The Trust supported a number of community-based projects working on the ground to assist the most vulnerable and those hardest hit by the effects of the crisis right across the Strabane, Sion Mills and Castlederg areas.
"In recognition of their incredible work, £4,450 of Strabane gift card vouchers was presented to 89 local volunteers. Well done to all those involved!"