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Peter Pan Lyric Theatre

Malachy gets a volunteer Oscar

By Staff Reporter

An 84-year-old West Belfast man who clocks up 50 hours a week volunteering has been recognised for his efforts.

Malachy Turley has been a dedicated volunteer for almost four decades and, despite being awarded for his work, he remains humble, grounded and still remarkably committed.  He received Belfast City Council’s Older Volunteer of the Year Award at City Hall and this week we called by his Tullymore Gardens home for a chat about his tireless work with the underprivileged and those struggling with alcohol addiction.

“I was 48 when I was hospitalised for treatment for alcoholism,” explained Malachy.  “When I got out, I made a decision to help people with alcoholism for the rest of my life and I have never stopped.”

Malachy teamed up with pal Danny Murphy to establish Rosemount House in North Belfast, which provides support and shelter to people with alcohol addiction.  He also worked hard to maintain a former Portakabin in West Belfast that has since become South Link Day Centre, of which he is Chairman.

“I think the trick is that I am very verbal,” he laughs.  “I am a good talker and always have been. I was a commercial traveller in the pharmacy industry when I was younger, I could always talk the talk but that was when I learned how to drink.”

Having overcome the alcohol issues he faced, the talking trait remains.

“I think because I talk, I get asked to sit on forums and be chairman of this or that, but I absolutely love this work.  I enjoy my Monday evening talks with people struggling with alcoholism.  People like that have low self-esteem and feel like they have no hope, I want people to know that if I can do what I do, then so can they.”

Malachy also sits on health forums in Belfast and has visited India and Africa for his Third World charity activities.

“I had a very enjoyable first half of my life,” he says, “I knew how to live it up and that’s what I did.  Now I enjoy playing golf and my volunteering work to help others.

“I want to thank everyone that I have had the honour of working with through my voluntary service, and the Volunteer Now group and the Volunteer Service Bureau Foundation, it is a pleasure.”

It’s not the first time Malachy has been recognised. He received a medal from none other than Pope Benedict for his “dedicated services”. But he remains modest about his work.

“I’m getting some slegging at the golf club about this award,” he laughs.  “Just keep the story simple. I am not a saint.”

Congratulations Malachy!

If you would like to try volunteering, log on to www.vol for more information.

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