Mary Hulgraine the Kildare all-star footballer and mental health advocate is now also the first recipient of the Christy Dignam Recovery Champion Award.
The accolade was awarded to her from the Naas based South Western Regional Drug and Alcohol Task Force (SWRDATF) and presented by Christy Dignam’s daughter Kiera at the More Than That Festival in Naas over the weekend.
Aubrey McCarthy Chair of the SWRDATF said that Mary was the obvious choice for this Recovery Champion award. He went on to say that Mary is a true beacon of hope for those impacted by addiction and that through her incredible sporting achievements, personal resilience and openness with her own powerful story.
But as well as this her down-to-earth genuine, strong and kind spirited persona is so evident to anyone that has met her the true characteristics of a champion. Never mind the breaking ball she is breaking down barriers of stigma and paving a way which highlights that recovery is not only possible but as she says herself with the “right support and determination no dream is too big.”
The award was presented at the Leave a Light on event to mark International Day of Addiction Recovery and took place in the Old Dara Cinema now the Naas food bank. The location was apt as it nurtured an appetite for an arts-based approach to challenging stigma through the medium of music, comedy and conversation.
A number of events took place, all curated masterfully by broadcaster and local influencer Keith Walsh who discussed the area of addiction recovery from a number of angles and perspectives. There was a wide variety of guests and singers throughout the day. Opening with conversation with mental health advocate Bressie and local folk band the Druids at the popular Naas Farmers market, while yoga instructor Janu was conducting a yoga practice that supports recovery maintenance across in Naas Library.
This was followed by two fireside events with local musicians Ryan Mack, Sive, Hally, as well as the Clondalkin Recovery Choir and the amazing Kiera Dignam, with Comedians Willa White and Tadgh Hickey bringing humor and laughter to the event.
Irish sporting greats Mary Hulgraine herself and the Irish legend Niall Quinn like all the other guests spoke openly to the subject of addiction its impacts and recovery pathways from different perspectives.
There was a consensus of the need to breakdown the stigma that surrounds addiction as it can lead to a culture of silence, shame, and secrecy leaving vulnerable people and their loved ones hidden away isolated from the protective support networks that our communities can offer.
The More Than That Festival aimed to challenge this stigma of addiction and to promote the protective community assets and achieved this through integrating with local community events such as the Naas Park Run, Farmer Market, Naas Food Bank, Naas Library and through the connected support of multiple agencies and organsiations through the symbolic gesture of lighting Naas up in purple as a sign of solidarity with key landmarks such as the Naas Ball, Popular square, Naas Garda station, and Kildare County Council’s Áras Chill Dara all lit up in purple for those in recovery while leaving the light on for those not there yet. Further information and support contact SWRDATF 045 875111