A Coleraine woman has dedicated her British Empire Medal (BEM) to her late grandmother and her team of volunteers who work alongsde her to raise money for The Alzheimer’s Society.
Sharon Neely (42) has been Lead Fundraising volunteer of the Causeway branch of the Alzheimer’s Society for the past five years, raising thousands of pounds.
And she described the award of the BEM in the New Year’s Honours as “the perfect Chrismas present for her family and friends”.
Sharon told the Times: “I was just shocked when I got the letter at the end of November. It was just unreal, I thought it was a joke.
“I had to read the letter a few times before it sank in and of course I couldn’t tell anyone!”
And no one could be more proudof her than her mum and dad Rosemary and Don, her sisters, Heather, Donna and Linda and her entire family and friends.
Sharon says she is humbled to have been nominated for the award in recognition of her dedication and commitment to helping people in the local community.
She has had a personal and agonising journey with Alzheimers having been a carer for her late grandmother, Eileen, who died in February 2006
She knows at first hand of the devastating impact that the condition makes on the person and the family members.
And this direct experience has enabled her to have great compassion for others facing similar heart breaking situations.
She works tirelessly to help create a community which can offer the necessary care and support which is so greatly needed.
“I’ve never set out to win an award like this I’ve just wanted to help others who have had this condition.
I’ve just tried to make a difference in any way I can and inspire others to help.”
Sharon’s fundraising role involves working with other volunteers to do fundraising events and street collections and meeting members of the public to receive cheques on behalf of the Society.
Over recent years Sharon has met so many people whose stories have touched her heart and remind her of the reason she joined the Society which was to help people in the community who are on the same journey.
Sharon is very keen to thank the many people who have helped her fulfil her role. Special thanks are due to Adrian Friel, Dementia Support Worker, and Fionnuala Graham, Fundraising Support Worker, for their encouragement to take up and continue the role within the Society.
She also pays great tribute to all the volunteers both past and present who have become lifelong friends and to the many businesses who support her by accepting collection boxes and offering donations.
Together she acknowledges they are all working to achieve the society’s mission statement: A world without Dementia tomorrow.
“Whilst one person cannot change the world, together we can change the world for one person, no matter who we are whilst leading the fight against dementia. “
In the true spirit of volunteering Sharon encourages anyone with a spare hour or two to contact the Society on 028 9038 7774.