PETER Riordan has won the country’s top carer accolade.The 81 year old was already shortlist material, having won the award at county and then provincial level prior the national award which was announced last week (May 30) in Westbury Hotel.
The award scheme is sponsored by Tunstall Emergency Response and hosted by The Carers Association.Widower Peter, a dad of ten from Naas, had been providing care for decades to his wife, Eithne, who passed away in 2004.
He currently cares for his sons Bernard (51) and Ronan (36). Bernard was left brain-damaged and is a wheelchair user following a tragic car crash in 1978 in which his brother Stephen (15 at the time) died. Ronan has Downs Syndrome and is non-verbal.
Peter’s day starts at 7am and he does not stop until 11pm, ensuring his two sons have all their needs met. A day away from the family is a rare event and has to be planned meticulously. Peter also has his own health problems, managing and monitoring his diabetes.
Regional and national awards were presented by patrons of The Carers Association broadcasters Mary Kennedy and Marty Whelan along with Kathleen Lynch TD, Minister of State, Department of Health and Department of Justice, Equality and Defence with responsibility for Disability, Older People, Equality and Mental Health.
“While we are constantly lobbying Government not to implement further service and social welfare cuts for family carers, it is so important every year that we take time out to recognise the enormous contribution of family carers, true Irish heroes, with these awards” says Anne Flynn, Area Manager Kildare, The Carers Association. “We are delighted to present this much deserved award to Peter whose provision of care and strength is an inspiration to us all.”
All regional award winners received a special award at the ceremony.
Amanda and Sam Norris were named the Young Carers of the Year.
Ireland’s 161,000family carers, including 40,883 full-time family carers, provide 3.7 million hours of unpaid care each week, saving the state over €4 billion each year.
According to the Census 2006, there are 5,500 young carers under 18 providing care with Census 2011 figures due shortly.