Riverstown – Pride of Place Awards 2004

Our journey in the Pride of Place competition began when we put ourselves forward for the County competition. This consisted of an application outlining what Riverstown Enterprise Development had achieved to date.

We won the County Pride Of Place Award in our category. Our community group was then selected by Sligo County Council to go forward to the National Finals of this Prestigious Award. Judging for the national final took place on Thursday the 19th August 2004 from 9am to 11.30 am. Riverstown Enterprise Development used the opportunity to showcase the community and the wealth of facilities and community achievements in Riverstown.

To prepare for a successful adjudication in the National Finals, we requested every household in the village to refresh, paint and re-decorate their houses and to have window boxes, flower beds and hanging baskets looking their best. A special effort was made to keep the village up to its existing high standard for the day. The enthusiasm for the competition was overwhelming. The entire community came out in force and showed great Pride in their Place. We prepared a presentation pack for each of the adjudicators that they could take with them, this consisted of a bound booklet on all our activities and a selection of photographs, press releases and some of our past publications and brochures. We carried out a Power-point presentation that lasted thirty minutes and this was followed by questions from the adjudicators. We then proceeded to the Street of Shop Fronts where a Community Showcase of the entire Riverstown Community took place, with displays of photographs and activities from over forty groups. We then went on a tour of the village where a short presentation was given with great enthusiasm at each location by representatives. The judges were given an excellent insight into the level of activity in the community and the generosity of people’s time with such activities.

Following on from this we heard nothing more from the judges until it was announced at the Finals In Ennis, County Clare that we had secured first place in our category. The judges noted three main points which secured our successful win, our Cross Border Activities with over 1200 exchanges, the Cross-Community Spirit and the Developments within Sligo Folk Park

Immediately on return from Ennis we set about preparing a celebration night in Sligo Folk Park for the whole community. Special guests on the night included Mr. John Perry T.D., Local Councilors Mr. Martin Baker and Mr. Gerard Mullaney, Rev. A.B.O’Shea and Rev. Arthur Barrett all of whom spoke very highly of Riverstown and the tremendous spirit displayed throughout the competition. Also present on the night were representatives of all the community groups that participated on adjudication day, Directors, Management and Staff of Riverstown Enterprise Development. A great night was had by all.

Following our success Sligo County Council hosted a Civic Reception to honour Riverstown Enterprise Development on winning the 2004 National Pride of Place Awards. This was held in the County Hall, Riverside, Sligo on Wednesday 8th of December at 7pm. Present at the reception were the Cathaoirleach, Margaret Gormley, members of the Sligo County Council, the representatives of all the various Riverstown community groups.The Directors Management and staff of Riverstown Enterprise Development (Sligo) Ltd.

The Cathaoirleach, Margaret Gormley welcomed everyone to the reception. In her speech spoke of the “excellent work done by the community of Riverstown, not just for the Pride of Place Awards, but in everything they do”. She spoke of the privilege it was for her to be present at Sligo Folk Park on the day of the adjudication and wished everyone present all the best for the future.

The Chairman of Riverstown Enterprise Development Mr. Michael Tuohy thanked the Cathaoirleach, Margaret Gormley and Sligo County Council for hosting the civic reception. He also thanked all the Community groups of Riverstown for coming along. He went on to say that “we were honoured to represent Sligo in the Pride of Place and delighted to win this prestigious National Award” He said “it was great to see such community spirit and Pride recognised at national level” He spoke briefly on the day of the adjudication.

He added “The people of Riverstown should be very proud of themselves as Riverstown is such a special place to live”. He went on to “thank the people who have gone before us and have laid the foundation stones, as well as the youth, who do not always get good press but we are blessed in that they show such interest and are so willing to help” He used the example of the Folk Parks Christmas Wonderland-Santatown stating that there were 88 Volunteers present on the Sunday with 46 of them between the ages of 14 to 23 years.

Finally he thanked the media, his fellow Directors, Staff at the Folk Park and the Riverstown community. In his closing comments he stated that the Folk Park was “only half way there in its developments, we have exciting and ambitious plans for the future in the shape of a Folk Village” and he encouraged the County Manager, Mr. Hubert Kearins and the County Councillors to “back us in this project and make Sligo Folk Park the Number one Tourist Attraction in the North West”

In her address the Director of Community Services, Ms. Dorothy Clarke said “that when people talk about community development they will talk about the “Riverstown Spirit” and everyone will know what this means” She also congratulated everyone involved and pledged support for the next phase of development at Sligo Folk Park.

Winning the Pride of Place has meant a great deal to the people of Riverstown. It has given the village a complete lift and its people a great sense of pride. Pride of Place was an opportunity to recognise the achievements of the hardworking members of the community today and those who went before us.

Winning this prestigious award will be of major benefit for Riverstown in the Future.