Local Youngster’s Volunteering Efforts Celebrated in New Photography Series.
Six-year-old Newry resident Aiabha Loughran featured in Newly Launched ‘Ordinary People – Extraordinary Times Photographic Series’
Volunteer Now, the lead organisation for promoting and supporting volunteering in Northern Ireland, has launched a new photographic series capturing the work of volunteers across all six counties helping local communities in need throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Proudly representing County Down is six-year-old volunteer, Aiabha Loughran.
Having only recently learned how to ride her bike without stabilisers, Aiabha set out to cycle as far as she could every day for the month of June in a bid to raise funds and awareness for Head Injury Support (HIS) Newry, an organisation specialising in care for head injury survivors and carers.
Throughout “Aiabha’s Bicycle Challenge”, she covered over 80km of distance and raised over £1,800, while proudly showing off her bicycle helmet – an important aspect of the campaign for the Loughran family. When she was the same age as her inspirational niece, Aiabha’s aunt, Sinéad, sustained a brain injury after she fell off her bike and hit her head. Thankfully due to the immediate treatment she received and ten years of rehabilitation, Sinéad has made a full recovery.
Speaking on her experience, Aiabha said: “Thank you to everyone who helped me raise money for Head Injury Support. I hope you all enjoyed the challenge – the cycling is now all over, but I will keep wearing my helmet. I hope the Head Injury Support people are happy with the money.”
Anne Murphy, the Service Development Manager of HIS, spoke of the amazing impact made by the young volunteer: she said: “The COVID-19 crisis has severely impacted the fundraising efforts of many charities, including Head Injury Support.
“Aiabha’s amazing cycling challenge raised over £1,800 which will help us continue supporting people in the local community who have an acquired brain injury.”
In these unprecedented times, volunteers like Aiabha have been the foundation of their communities, showing their resilience to uncertainty and selfless commitment to helping those most in need.
Anne also spoke of Volunteer Now’s assistance in recruiting volunteers:
“Volunteer Now have been my go-to for all things volunteering throughout my career working in the community charity sector.
“This has included everything from liaising with their head office departments for advice and training, to working with their local community-based support officer Clara, who has been so supportive and informative in relation to best practice when involving volunteers.”
The ‘Ordinary People – Extraordinary Times Photographic Series’ featuring the Newry schoolgirl was launched this week as a follow on from Volunteer Now’s #HelpEachOther campaign in March which aimed to recruit volunteers to undertake specific Covid-19 related volunteering activity.
The campaign received a huge response, with over 4,000 people from every county across Northern Ireland stepping up to help their communities and register as a volunteer.
Denise Hayward, Chief Executive Officer of Volunteer Now said: “In the 10 years that Volunteer Now has been established in Northern Ireland, the COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly been our greatest challenge. We are immensely proud of the work of the volunteers in helping to navigate this crisis.
“We want to ensure the efforts of Northern Ireland’s volunteering community are acknowledged and recorded for future generations as they look back on this unprecedented period of time.
“As such, we have embarked upon a photography project over the last number of months to capture volunteers in action at a time when ordinary people became extraordinary community heroes.
“We are delighted to now launch ‘Ordinary People – Extraordinary Times Photographic Series’ and provide a first glimpse of some of the striking images of the wonderful volunteers in action.
“The series is a fantastic testament to the spirit and generosity of the people of Northern Ireland and is our way of saying a huge thank you to the dedicated volunteers who continue to make Northern Ireland a better place.”
Communities Minister Carál Ní Chuilín also commented saying; “I am delighted that this photographic series has captured the efforts of the thousands of volunteers, who have been true heroes throughout the crisis, and have selflessly given their time to benefit others.
“Throughout the pandemic I have been truly heartened by the generosity and wonderful sense of community displayed in every corner of our society where people from all walks of life stepped forward to help. I have no doubt anyone who views the series online will feel a sense of pride in all our volunteer’s efforts.”
The full set of images from the ‘Ordinary People – Extraordinary Times Photographic Series’ are available to download as an e-book via the Volunteer Now website:
Volunteer Now also plans to launch the full photographic series as a regional photography exhibition across each county in the coming months, in association with local Councils, when safe to do so.
For more information visit: