John O’Brien from Nobber is celebrating this week after being named Meath’s Most Inspirational Person at this year’s Gala Retail Inspiration Awards with Virgin Media. 

John’s extensive and inspirational work in the local community earned him the title of Inspirational Person in this year’s awards.

Established four years ago to celebrate individuals who work to create better communities with their selfless acts and inspirational deeds, Gala Retail awarded inspirational people from every county in Ireland, naming county inspirational people who were each gifted €1,000 in Ireland Hotel vouchers.

John really impressed the judges for his work in the local community and is a worthy winner of the county award for his inspirational efforts.

In 2013, John spent 18 months in the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Dun Laoghaire after suffering life-changing spinal cord injuries which left him paralysed from the chest down. Despite this, John is a key member of the local GAA club where he serves as PRO, team selector and club captain.

Not only does John inspire the players, he mentors and supports everyone in the community and constantly challenges himself in completing further education courses so he can help others that have experienced similar trauma. John has completed further education courses in social care, counselling and is currently studying sports psychology. 

From a huge volume of nominations, 26 county heroes were crowned. Noreen Murphy, from Bantry in County Cork, was named as the Overall Inspirational Person of the Year for her services to mental health with the establishment of Lisheen’s House Suicide Prevention Charity.

According to Gary Desmond, CEO of Gala Retail, choosing the winners was a challenging task.

“We’ve heard some truly inspirational stories from people across Ireland during these awards, which has affirmed something we already knew – that we have so many selfless people carrying out great work in our communities,” Gary said.

Mr Desmond continues: “Now in their fourth year, the Inspiration Awards pay tribute to people who play a key role in creating a better country for us all. Operating in communities throughout Ireland, Gala Retailers have seen first-hand some of the great work that people have been doing and we are proud to have been able to recognise some of these inspirational individuals.

“We were overwhelmed by the level of nominations and John along with the fellow inspirational heroes are true examples of people who are making Ireland a better place. Congratulations John and all our county heroes!”

As a community retailer with 175 convenience stores nationwide, Gala store owners often hear of inspirational stories in their local communities, and this year’s Gala Retail Inspiration Awards with Virgin Media have elevated Ireland’s unsung heroes onto a national stage, giving these inspirational people the recognition they deserve.

Gala Retail has gifted €26,000 of prizes to the winners with the 26 county winners being awarded with €1000 hotel getaways across Ireland.