Pensioner “an inspirational example” to community service

December 10, 2012

By Christine Keighery

The outstanding contribution of a Silverbridge pensioner to voluntary work in her local community has been recognised and rewarded by the Southern Health and Social Care Trust in its 2012 Excellence Awards.

Sabina Reel (83) was presented with the joint first place prize, which she shared with St. Paul’s High School in Bessbrook, at a lavish ceremony in the Craigavon Civic Centre on Wednesday.

Sabina accepted the prestigious Award for Excellence in Volunteering from Health Minister Edwin Poots.

The inspirational octogenarian is renowned throughout the district for her tireless voluntary work which has spanned the last 28 years and in June of this year also received  an accolade for a Lifetime of Service from Thomas McCall, Chief Executive of Newry and Mourne District Council.

As well as working on the local Community Red Bus, which provides transport for the elderly and people with disabilities, the veritable superwoman also spent a considerable amount of time during the past three years with the Alzheimer’s Unit in Newry.  She also manages to divide her time helping out in Day Centres in Newtownhamilton and Crossmaglen, as well as the weekly Cullyhanna Luncheon Club.

Sabina was nominated for her latest outstanding award by Imelda McPolin, Volunteer Co-ordinator for Newry and Mourne, and scooped joint top spot out of some 140 nominees.

Her very proud family members told us it was “heartwarming” to see such a fantastic lady get the recognition she so richly deserves. Indeed, Sabina’s family describes the committed volunteer as a “blessing to us all” – a fitting title for a woman who has dedicated her life to helping and caring for others and has been an inspiration to both young and old.

Speaking to The Examiner following her achievement, a delighted Sabina told us she never expected to receive such an award and has been overwhelmed by the messages of support and congratulations she has received.

Sabina went on to reveal that, after enduring the untimely death of her husband and overcoming a life-threatening illness more than thirty years ago, she pledged to dedicate her life to caring for others. She has certainly upheld that promise, having selflessly served the community in so many ways since. The venerable lady admits she has found a life of reaching out to others extremely rewarding and credits her volunteer work with keeping her young and active. She highly recommends volunteering to anyone who feels they still have something to offer their community and is thrilled to have inspired many younger than her to become volunteers.

Sinn Fein councillor Colman Burns has also paid tribute to Sabina’s contribution to volunteering and congratulated her on her latest accolade.

“This is a well-deserved award for a very popular lady. Sabina has been to the forefront in volunteering and has given her services to the community, for many years,” Councillor Burns said. “Sabina is a great example and inspiration to others. She has touched the hearts of many people and is thoroughly deserving of all the awards that she gets. She is a great ambassador for the district and I hope she continues to be rewarded for her sterling work.”

We in The Examiner join with the wider community in congratulating Sabina on this latest wonderful accolade.