“With hard work there are no limits”.

This simple motto runs through the Oisín McGrath Foundation and the work it carries out in the community.

And on Saturday, March 2, Sharon McGrath, Oisín’s mother, was recognised for all the hard work and effort she has put in to the foundation when she was announced as the Heart of Gold Awards NI winner for 2019.

The event at the Dunadry Hotel, Antrim saw the nominees, family and friends from all over Northern Ireland come together to celebrate all the brilliant work they do in their local communities.

And after becoming the first person from Fermanagh nominated for the awards, Sharon received the most votes to claim top prize.

Having had no idea about the nomination, Sharon was just as surprised when her named was announced as the winner.

“I really had no expectations of winning the award. I appreciated being nominated and was overwhelmed by all the support and messages received but had no anticipation beyond that. There were some amazing people nominated who are doing outstanding work across Northern Ireland. Then my name was announced as winner, it was a really bittersweet moment - Oisín not being there with us is something we live with through all life events, and while we were delighted to win, it was tinged with immense sadness too.”

Over 20 family and friends made the trip to Antrim with Sharon including Fiona Brazill and Eimear Grugan, who nominated Sharon for the awards, as they all came together to celebrate Sharon but also the legacy left by Oisín.

“There were some tears and some laughter. It was a time for making memories with our families and friends. A time to remember Oisín, to highlight his legacy, to receive thanks for the work we are doing through Oisín’s Foundation and OMG AC but also to thank all those who continue to support us and all our events and activities.

“We see this as an opportunity to raise the profile of Oisín’s Foundation and the work that we do. We have already seen some great engagement on social media and have made some excellent links with people that we may partner with in the future. The event tied in well with the increase in coverage around organ donation in the media and the commentary that the Impartial kindly published last week.”

After her success and the exposure gained for the Oisín McGrath Foundation, Sharon is encouraging people to nominate the fantastic projects, foundations and initiatives in Fermanagh to get the recognition they deserve.

“The event is growing year on year and it is an excellent way to recognise some of the volunteer work going on across Northern Ireland and to give such initiatives a profile boost and advice on how to grow and enhance what they do.”