Active Disability Services Awards

Active Disability Services Awards

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About the Awards

The Active Disability Services Awards have been developed to recognise and reward Disability Services throughout Ireland who have shown leadership and commitment to helping people with disabilities stay active and healthy.  The awards highlight the commitment of staff, management, and individuals with disabilities as well as highlighting the programmes which have a focus on encouraging and supporting service users to participate in physical activity and healthy practices.

During the global pandemic restrictions, creating opportunities to be active became a challenge.   In response, many disability services, and the people who work in this sector, adapted in how they delivered programmes for physical activity.  Online classes, outdoor activities and video calls became part of new routines.  Many of these have continued to be delivered, which has shown commitment from services to ensure physical activity remained an important part of the daily lives of people with disabilities.  We believe that these people and the programmes they deliver deserve recognition and should be awarded for their great work.

Being physically active at any level is hugely important to our health and wellbeing especially for people with disabilities.   Providing activities that encourage active and healthy lifestyles can greatly influence a persons mood, energy, happiness and overall wellbeing.


Awards Criteria

To be eligible to enter these awards, entrants must meet the following criteria:

• Services must be funded by the HSE and operate as an Adult Disability Day Care Service or Adult Disability Residential Care Service.
• Programmes must have been operating as part of the activity timetable within the service from 1st January 2020, whether online or in-person.
• Programmes must be delivered by staff members of the service, or have been delivered by an external contractor directly commissioned by the service.
• Programmes must have been a regular and reoccurring activity for services users.
• Programmes must have the potential to be repeated into the future.
• Individuals must have been employed by a service between the dates of 1st January 2020 and 31st December 2021.


Read Full Terms and Conditions

Award Categories


Programme Awards

Best Physical Activity Programme

This award recognises the successful delivery and impact of an outstanding programme that encourages physical activity and active healthy lifestyles for service users.


Best Outdoor Activity Programme

This award recognises the successful delivery and impact of an outstanding outdoor activity programme that encourages physical activity and active healthy lifestyles for service users.


Best Health Education Programme

This award recognises an outstanding education programme with a focus on the benefits of regular exercise and a healthy lifestyle.   


Best Community Engagement Programme

This award recognises an outstanding programme that is delivered in collaboration with others in their local community.  It recognises the connection between the service and the community and the impact on enhancing opportunities for service users to be active and healthy.


People Awards

Active Service Management Team

This award recognises a management team that shows leadership, innovation and commitment to enhancing physical activities and active healthy lifestyles for their service users.


Active Service Key Worker

This award recognises an outstanding key worker and their commitment and effort to encourage physical activity and active healthy lifestyles for their service users.


Active Champion

This award recognises an outstanding service user who regularly participates in physical activity and inspires others to be be active.


Active Service Volunteer

This award recognises an outstanding volunteer and their commitment and effort to encourage physical activity and active healthy lifestyles for their service users.


Special Recognition Awards

Lifetime Service Award

This award recognises an outstanding individual who has shown dedication, passion and commitment to enhancing physical activities and active healthy lifestyles for their service users.


People Make Places Award

This award recognises an outstanding individual who goes above and beyond to encourage physical activity and active healthy lifestyles for their service users.


Outstanding Community Disability Service

This award recognises an outstanding independent disability service who displays a significant commitment to enhancing physical activity and active healthy lifestyles for their service users in their community.


Outstanding National Disability Service Provider

This award recognises an outstanding national provider of disability services who displays a significant commitment to enhancing physical activity and active healthy lifestyles for their service users throughout the country.



Judging Panel

Jacqui Browne (Chair)

Jacqui Browne (Chair)

Disability Equality Activist and Consultant

Jacqui Browne has over 35 years’ experience of working at local, national, European and International levels as a disability equality activist and consultant.   She is secretary of the Board of the Independent Living Movement of Ireland (ILMI).  Jacqui is also a member of the Disability Advisory Committee of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC); the Irish Thalidomide Association and the Irish Platform for Patient Organisations, Science and Industry (IPPOSI). Jacqui is also Chairperson of DESSA – the Disability Equality Specialist Support Agency which is a Community Development Human Rights focussed organisation.

Matt Connor

Matt Connor

Former GAA Footballer, Mentor and Director, Cara Sport Inclusion Ireland

Matt is a retired member of An Garda Siochana based in Tullamore, Co. Offaly. He has served as a member of the National Disability Authority Board for a number of years.

Well known for his successful career in Gaelic Football, Matt has represented Offaly in winning an All-Ireland in 1982 and his role as mentor with the Minor and Senior teams over several years.  He has a passion for inclusion in sport and physical activity.

Rhian McCarroll

Rhian McCarroll

Physical Activity Education Coordinator, Cara

Rhian has worked in the disability and inclusion sector for 6 years and is passionate about the positive impact physical activity and sport can have on peoples’ lives. Rhian is the Physical Activity Programmes Coordinator at Cara, working in partnership with the HSE and Sport Ireland to support disability services to increase the knowledge and understanding of people with disabilities on the importance and benefits of being physically active and raise awareness of the opportunities that are available to them to participate within their local community.

A sports and activity enthusiast, Rhian captains NI Senior Women’s Volleyball Squad and when not playing volleyball she can be found out and about exploring the outdoors with her dog Margo!

Sinéad White

Sinéad White

Head of Central Shared Services, VHI Healthcare and Director, Cara Sport Inclusion Ireland

Sinéad White is a senior manager with over 20 years’ experience working in the Finance, Technology and Insurance industries. She is experienced in leading major programmes of change and specialises in project and process management. Sinéad is Head of Central Shared Services in VHI Healthcare.

She is a proud Laois woman and an avid sports fan from the couch to the side lines and in the thick of it. She is a firm believer in the importance of sport from both a social and health perspective. Running and fitness are her interests and she has completed 2 Dublin City Marathons.

Patrick Flanagan

Patrick Flanagan

Athlete & Sports Advocate

Patrick has worked for seven years with disabled persons organisations in both fundraising and employment development roles.

Adapted physical activity has been a part of Patrick’s life for over twenty years. A participant in the early APA programmes in IT Tralee, Patrick played an active role in the development of powerchair football in Ireland and captained the first international side at the 2011 FIPFA World Cup. He currently an athletes’ representative with the Association of Irish Powerchair Football, European Powerchair Football Players Council, and Boccia Ireland. He has also been a contributor to CARA over the years from summer work experience over ten years ago, to involvement in more recent initiatives such as the inclusion awards and I’m In Too.

Aoife Ní Mhuirí

Aoife Ní Mhuirí

CEO, Salaso Healthcare

Aoife is a chartered physiotherapist with a passion for the prevention, treatment and rehabilitation of injury in sport. She holds a BSc. (Hons) in Physiotherapy and an MSc. in Sports Medicine from Trinity College Dublin and has over 15 years of clinical experience in sports injury management including a decade as physiotherapist to the Kerry Senior Football team, one of Ireland’s most successful sporting teams.

During her career to date, she has worked alongside many of Ireland’s leading physicians, exercise physiologists, strength and conditioning professionals and sports coaches. She lectures on the Health and Leisure studies programme at the Munster Technological University and was responsible for developing innovative e-learning modules for students, using multimedia and technology.

Eimear Foley

Eimear Foley

Health & Leisure Lecturer, Munster Technological University

Eimear Foley is a lecturer in the Dept. of Health and Leisure Studies at the Munster Technological University, Kerry. Having graduated with a BSc. Sport and Exercise Science from the University of Limerick in 2002, she completed a MSc. by research at Dublin City University in 2005.  Her research incorporated the ‘Take PART’ study which focused on adolescent physical activity.

Eimear teaches on a range of modules including Population Health, Behaviour Change, Performance Training and Activity Leadership, Massage and is also coordinating the newly launched Postgraduate in Applied Exercise for Health.  As part of her work, she is involved with Healthy Kerry, REPS and a number of other community initiatives. She is passionate about promoting physical activity for all with a keen interest in Physical Activity for Older Adults, People with Disabilities and ‘Hard to reach’ populations.

Padraig Healy

Padraig Healy

National Sports Development Manager, Vision Sports Ireland

Pádraig has worked in the disability sports sector for almost 10 years. Having previously worked as a Social Care Worker with Brothers of Charity, he then worked as a Sports Inclusion Disability Officer with Cork Sports Partnership for four years before taking up the same post with Kildare Sports Partnership in 2018. In November 2020 he took up the role of National Sports Development Manger with Vision Sports Ireland.

Helen McHugh

Helen McHugh

Diversity, Inclusion & Safeguarding Manager at Sport Ireland

Helen McHugh is Sport Ireland’s Diversity, Inclusion and Safeguarding manager. As part of her role in the area of Diversity and Inclusion, Helen leads on the development of inclusive principles, policies and programmes for people with disabilities.



Watch the Event


The Winners Are …

The winners were announced and presented with their award on Thursday 31st March in Farmleigh House, Phoenix Park, Dublin from 12pm – 2.30pm. 

The event was hosted by TV and Radio broadcaster Matt Cooper.


Category Winner
Active Champion Anthony Mullen  –  Brothers of Charity Services  – West Region, Galway/Roscommon
Active Service Key Worker Shelly Breslin – St John of Gods Service, Tallaght, Dublin
Active Service Management Team Kilbixy Paddocks, Galro, Longford
Active Service Volunteer Noel Clyne –  NLN Skillsbridge, Mullingar
Best Physical Activity Programme Sports Centre APA Programme – Stewarts Care – Dublin
Best Outdoor Activity Programme Patrick’s Hiking Programme, St. Patrick’s Centre – Kilkenny
Best Health Education Programme Sport and Recreation Programme – AVISTA, St. Vincents Centre, Dublin
Best Community Engagement Programme Enjoy Tennis –  KARE Kildare
Outstanding Community Disability Service Award Staff and Residents Moville RGH – Moville, Donegal
People Make Places Award Maeve Lynch –  CoAction, West Cork
Lifetime Service Award Terence McSweeney – Cope Foundation, Cork



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