A long time community volunteer, Leitrim Guardian Person of the Year for 2017, Hubert McHugh, is passionate about supporting local issues and local people. Here he tells the Leitrim Observer what his hopes are for his year as ambassador for the county.
When I got the news that I had been selected as the 2017 Leitrim Guardian Person of the Year I genuinely though someone had lost the run of themselves!
This honour, I thought, was reserved for high profile people from the county who had a major influence on shaping Leitrim in many different ways both locally, nationally and indeed internationally.
I have worked as a community mental health nurse in Leitrim for the past 42 years. When I started working in the Mental Health Services I thought I wouldn't stick it a week but 42 years on I'm still there and I couldn't imagine being anywhere else.
The people I have engaged with are inspiring individuals and their families are loyal and courageous.
I have always been treated with the utmost respect by all of them.
Thankfully the taboo around mental health has almost disappeared and with hand on heart I can say that these people have given more to me than I have given to them.
In my role as Leitrim Guardian Person of the Year for 2017, I would hope that I can instill in our young people the importance of volunteering.
We live in a world where we can communicate with one another like never before.
The internet, emails, Facebook, Instagram, texts, Skype and Snapchat are at our young people's fingertips and we can't change that. However, as far as I'm concern there is nothing to beat the physical contact of a face-to-face conversation.
We need to show the younger generation of Leitrim that there is life beyond technology.
If we can all urge our sons, daughters and grandchildren to take the time to just put all of that aside, if only for one hour a day and TALK to them about the values of conversation and helping others without any financial reward, then that for me would be a good day's work.
Through my work, the one common denominator that causes the most mental health problems is loneliness and the feeling of isolation. Indeed some of us know all too well from our own experience just what that is and what it feels like.
Sometimes the most connected people are the most disconnected.
Talk costs nothing. Helping others costs even less and the satisfaction they get from doing that 'one good deed' will encourage them to do more and more.
If that happens we will live in a much better place.
Spend time not money!