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Gerry Kelly announces Age Concern Volunteer of the Year Award

11 October, 2007

Sinn Féin Junior Minister Gerry Kelly today named 88 year old great-grandmother Sarah Stewart as the Age Concern volunteer of the year.

Speaking at a special awards ceremony in Cookstown to celebrate volunteering, Mr Kelly commended the work of volunteers.

Mr Kelly said:

"The enthusiasm and commitment of volunteers along with their desire to help others makes a significant contribution to creating a better society for us all.

"Volunteering is a means for empowering people and communities to fulfil their potential and enables individuals and groups to contribute to social change that betters and enriches lives.

"For individuals, volunteering gives a sense of purpose. It provides opportunities to join in, to contribute and to make a difference to the lives of family, friends and neighbours.

"Without doubt, much of what has been achieved by Age Concern has been done with the help of your extensive network of volunteers. They are ordinary people who do extraordinary work - people who devote their time, their effort and their energy for the benefit of others and it is fitting that their contribution is recognised."

Turning to the issue of older people, the Minister confirmed that the review into the case for an independent Commissioner for Older People with begin with the next few weeks.

"To ensure that older people themselves and older people's organisations have the opportunity to contribute to the review, a number of consultation events will be organised at various locations.

"The review is due to be completed by the end of the year and the Executive will make a decision early in 2008.

"Security and dignity in later life can only be delivered with the participation and input of older people and organisations such as Age Concern. This is why it is important to have a public debate about issues such as the Older People's Commissioner."

Announcing the Age Concern Local Group Volunteer of the Year Award, Gerry Kelly congratulated Sarah Stewart for her outstanding contribution to the activities of the charity.

"Well done on receiving this award. You have clearly contributed your time, energy and enthusiasm so much and so willingly to several causes. You have played a very active role in fundraising for local causes as well as being a member of a range of committees including the Pensioners Convention and the Older Persons' Consultative Group." ENDS

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