Updated: 24/12/17 : 04:22:26
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A Christmas message from Marian Harkin MEP

Sligo Volunteers – the Best in Europe

In December 2016 Sligo was honoured to be designated as the European Capital of Volunteering 2017, taking over from London as the 2016 capital.  It was a wonderful year when volunteers across Sligo were recognised and celebrated and where they carried the torch for volunteering in Europe.

There were so many high points this year. These include the opening ceremony in the Knocknarea Arena, celebrating Sligo’s volunteers, Sligo’s musical talent and Sligo’s heritage; the various events organised by voluntary organisations to recognise and applaud their own volunteers; the volunteer fairs; the volunteer clock; the national volunteer run events that came to Sligo for the first time ever and of course the wonderful closing event in City Hall where Sligo’s voluntary effort for 2017 was outlined, where our Sligo musicians entertained and enthralled and which ended with a spectacular light show that made the RTÉ 9o’clock news.

From my own perspective I was especially pleased to be able to host Sligo volunteers and representatives for an exhibition of the best of Sligo in the European Parliament.  This was a very special event opened by the Irish Ambassador to Belgium where we celebrated our designation as European Capital of Volunteering 2017 and where we also took the opportunity to showcase our spectacular scenery, our links to Yeats, our visitor attractions, our heritage ranging from the Passage Tomb at Carrowmore to our 2016 Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann.  We finished up the evening with stunning food, all from Sligo especially prepared, flown over and served at the event by Gary Stafford and his team.

Now that 2017 is drawing to a close and Aarhus n Denmark takes on the mantle of 2018 European Capital of Volunteering, we must ensure that the legacy of our wonderful year is assured and the very best way to do that is by supporting Volunteers and voluntary organisations.  In my opinion Volunteers along with Carers are the glue that helps to hold our societies together and we owe them a great debt of gratitude.

So to Volunteers everywhere, but especially to Sligo volunteers, a great big shout out and thank you and I want t to wish each and every one of you a very happy Christmas.

A word for our diaspora and those who would like to but cannot make it home this Christmas - you will be in our thoughts.  For all those who work either in our hospitals, in our emergency services or public services who have to forego the special family days of Christmas, thank you for helping keep us safe.

Finally as 2017 draws to a close some will look back with a smile on their faces while others will remember the pain. Life – wonderful though it is - brings joy and sorrow to all of us at different times in our lives.  Yet as the New Year approaches all of us can look to 2018 with hope, hope for whatever is close to our own hearts.

I wish all Sligo Today readers a great Christmas and a hopeful New Year.