AN inspiring charity project, which started in Fermanagh before spreading across the North and far beyond, has won a major national award.
The Kindness Postbox, set up by Enniskillen woman Nuala O’Toole during the pandemic to link schoolchildren with isolated care-home residents, was named runner-up in the Ireland section at the Creative Lives Awards in Leeds last week.
Creative Lives is a registered charity that champions community and volunteer-led arts activity. From a shortlist of 36 inspiring groups across the UK and Ireland, the panel, comprising Creative Lives staff and trustees, representatives from local stakeholders and previous winners, chose the Kindness Postbox among its awardees.
“The award came as a total shock and was very emotional for our charity to be recognised in this way,” Ms O’Toole said.
“It’s a huge accolade and we are very proud to have been given it. To get this kind of appreciation from our peers was so heartwarming.
“We also meet some absolutely inspirational people at the awards ceremony and it was an inspiration to be part of it all. It was just ordinary people like ourselves being celebrated for doing good for others.”
It’s the second award for the local charity as it also received Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s daily Points of Light award in February, which every weekday recognises volunteers who are making a change in their community.
In a personal letter to Ms O’Toole, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said he wanted to thank her for the “many small acts of kindness” she had inspired through the scheme.
“Your initiative has seen thousands of letters, cards and drawings shared between school children and care-home residents across Northern Ireland and far beyond,” he said.
“Every day, I write to someone in our country to thank them for their service to others by naming them as a Point of Light.
“It could not be more fitting that today I am posting a letter to you.”
The Kindness Postbox was started by Ms O’Toole to bring the gift of kindness to residents of local care homes that had been affected by Covid-19 and give them “something to smile about.” It was officially launched in April 2021, with a little help from a local shop, McBride’s Spar Chanterhill in Enniskillen.
It now has 29 partnerships in Northern Ireland, one in Britain, and one even as far away as Australia.
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