Two Ballyseedy volunteers, George and Mary Sugrue, have been nominated for a prestigious National Volunteering Award in recognition of their work with Adi Roche’s Chernobyl Children International, spanning over three decades and three generations.
George and Mary Sugrue’s life is an extraordinary glimpse into the unstinting generosity of the Irish people and our ability to open our heart to the children affected by the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster and are still doing so, over 31 years later. George and Mary were among the first of hundreds of Irish families who opened their hearts and homes to these children in the wake of the catastrophic nuclear accident to provide the children with health boosting break from the toxic environments they lived in.
Through their advocacy and hard work they founded and single handedly run the Chernobyl Children International Dental Programme. Each year George and Mary drive over 3,000kms to provide high standard dental care to children who have been abandoned to Children’s Mental Asylums. This year, they have expanded their programme with a mobile dental unit which is used to treat terminally ill children on our Hospice and Palliative Care Programme reaching almost 200 children with life-limiting illnesses.
George and Mary have assisted in the delivery of over €105million humanitarian aid to Belarus and have subsequently travelled with convoys of aid to ensure its safe delivery. 2017 marked their 21st and 19th convoy respectively that they have been involved with for CCI.
They are at the helm of the annual Rose of Tralee International Festival, during which they are one of the only local groups to walk in the famous parade. Not only have Tralee Outreach Group Leaders George and Mary organised the arrival of and welcomed dozens of children into their own home, they have also committed themselves to finding alternatives to orphanages for a number of children. They have actively reunited numerous children with their biological families and most recently have started looking for a foster home for Angelina Gorhova, 11, whose biological family are not a viable option. They have directly saved the lives of many children, reuniting them with families and offering them a future of hope and freedom.
The “superhero” husband-wife team are nominated for the Volunteer Ireland Awards, under the Social Work and Social Inclusion Category.
According to Adi Roche, founder and voluntary CEO of Chernobyl Children International;
“No statistics do justice to the efforts that this husband and wife super team give to CCI every year. They have stood with collection buckets in the rain on street corners in the dead of winter, they have given up their Christmas Eve’s to wrap presents for donations, driven trucks in ice cold treacherous condition across Europe, knocked on doors and asked for help not for themselves but for the children of Chernobyl. Above all else, they keep the memory of Chernobyl alive in the hearts and minds of so many Cork people, 31 years after such a terrible accident. I am so grateful for all they have done for the children affected by Chernobyl and so happy that they are getting the recognition that they so truly deserve. I have no doubt that on the day of each awards ceremony, there will be a group of children cheerleading for them, all the way over in Belarus as they have touched the lives of so many people”
The Award-ceremony takes place in Sligo on 1 December and as shortlisted nominees, the Sugrues are also nominated for the coveted overall ‘Volunteer of the Year’ Award.