AN 80-year-old County Limerick woman who has completed several mini-marathons to raise funds for charitable causes has received a national award for her contribution to society.
Josie Ahern, a mother-of-five from Killea, Croagh, Rathkeale, was winner of the local hero award at the Woman’s Way/Beko Mother of the Year awards in Dublin last week.
The judges made special mention of her long term commitment to caring for the elderly, offering her interior decorating services, looking after the ill and infirm, as well as volunteering at numerous events.
A pioneer of the home help service, she cycled around the area visiting the elderly before moving on to a car which allowed her to offer lifts to the local shops and post office.
Her charitable work was instrumental in founding the first school for dyslexic children in Limerick City and she has been to the fore in fundraising for an extension to a new national school and graveyard in her local area.
Having raised €10,000 by walking the Dublin mini-marathon on her 70th birthday, she has completed the event on five occasions to raise €35,000 for the Friends of St Ita’s Community Hospital and €11,000 for an orphanage in Belarus.
She has also raised funds for the Samaritans, St Gabriel’s special school, the Jack and Jill Foundation and Temple Street Children’s Hospital.
Reflecting on the ‘local hero’ award, she said that it was her desire was simply to “leave the community in a better place than when I found it”.
The overall mother of the year award when to Caitríona Nic Mhuiris from Newcastle, Galway, whose family of four increased to eight overnight when she and husband Séamus became guardians to their four nieces. Caitríona’s sister Una died from Sudden Adult Death Syndrome and her daughters, ranging in ages eight to 14, moved in with their aunt, uncle and cousins.
Caitríona completed a diploma in Child Bereavement through the Irish Hospice Foundation to better understand the impact of grief in children and this led to the establishment of Kinship Care Ireland.