It’s official. Eugene Callinan from Quilty, Co. Clare is a hero of Harrow. This isn’t a story you’d find in a Marvel comic, Callinan has always been more at home regenerating Kenton Recreation Ground in north west London.
For more than 10 years, the 51-year-old has mended fences in a fashion that peace-makers build bridges, sometimes working more than 12 hours a day, seven days a week. Toil like that has won him additional titles like Neighbourhood Champion and Volunteer Park Warden.
He has now scooped Harrow Council’s Environmental Volunteer of the Year Award, in addition to the overall Volunteer of the Year Award.
“I have a love of nature and the outdoors,” he told The Irish Post. “I’d see a problem that needed fixing and I’d fix it, that’s how it all started.” Mr Callinan has helped to reclaim areas of parkland and regenerated up to 30 allotments in the park. All the work he has completed is unpaid and on occasion he has even put his own money into making improvements.
“The people who use the park, their appreciation is payment enough for me,” he said. “I get a great kick out of teaching people some of the things I’ve learned about gardening and seeing the joy they get out of it. “I never expected any of this. It is just something that has escalated since I started and there always seems to be more that I can do, a next goal or a next target.”
More than 80 volunteers put forward for the eight categories were handed certificates and commended for their efforts.