Tipperary volunteers praised by President Michael D. Higgins for dedication to Concern

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Concern Worldwide has paid tribute to the extraordinary generosity and compassion of the Tipperary public after being honoured by President Michael D. Higgins at a special 50th anniversary event at Áras an Uachtaráin.

Over 170 volunteers, supporters and staff were among the invited guests at the event last Tuesday, including several Tipperary residents who have heavily contributed to the charity’s work over the years.

Mary Cavanagh from Tipperary Town is the main street collection organiser in her area and has been praised for her dedication to Concern’s work.

Betty White, who has been fundraising for Concern for over 24 years and is well-known for reflecting the current challenges in the world through her poetry, was also recognised on the night.

Commenting at the event, Concern CEO Dominic MacSorley paid tribute to the incredible generosity of the Irish public, which has helped the organisation to reach many millions of people over the past 50 years. “The response of the Irish public was phenomenal. Images of war and starvation broadcast into homes across Ireland tapped into the instinctual empathy and generosity of a nation and this is what has continued to sustain Concern over the past 50 years,” he said.

President Higgins said Concern has been to the forefront of addressing the great issues of our time. “Through your work you crafted a vital bridge between the Irish people and some of the poorest people in our world. Thank you all those of you who have worked for and with Concern over the years for your compassion, your courage, and your dedication to supporting the lives and building the capacity of the poorest people of the world,” President Higgins added.

Founded in 1968 in response to devastating famine in the breakaway state of Biafra in Nigeria, Concern now reaches over 26 million people in 26 of the world’s poorest countries. From the beginning, a group of volunteers led by young Dublin couple John and Kay O’Loughlin Kennedy had a bold, inclusive vision that brought supporters from all backgrounds and all corners together.

Their efforts built on the legacy of the Irish missionaries and opened a new chapter of ambitious Irish humanitarian relief that was both compassionate and professional, supported by communities and volunteers from all over the country.

In the first year alone, they raised the equivalent of €4 million to send a ship-load of vital supplies to the starving population of Nigeria in what was the largest relief operation to ever come out of Ireland at the time. MV ‘The Columcille’ set sail from Dublin Port on 6th September 1968 and arrived off the coast of São Tomé 23 days later, where pilots flew consignments of aid into the war-torn country.

Concern has a number of events planned to mark the 50th anniversary of the organisation over the year, including an international conference on conflict in Dublin in September.

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