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Last Friday night was a night that will go down in history for Donegal boxing club Illies Golden Gloves Boxing Club. The small club based in the foothills of the Donegal Mountains in Buncrana won big at the Ulster Boxing Council IABA Elite finals.

Two of their boxers triumphed on the night with Cahir Gormley being crowned the 67kg champion and Matthew McCole coming away with not only the 71kg title but was also announced as the Best Boxer of Championship.

Illies Golden Gloves Boxing Club’s Matthew McCole is declared 71kg Champion and Best Boxer of the Championship.

Speaking about his win, Cahir said:

“It’s a big win for me. I won schoolboy titles and probably fell short around youth level, but I kept at it, kept working hard and it’s starting to pay off now. I want to be one of the best elites- that’s what I’m aiming for. We’re going to the top, this is only the start of it.”

This sense of determination and ambition is one shared throughout the club. Cahir’s teammate Matthew McCole, who was also victorious on the night, had disappointing performance at last October’s Irish elites, and wasn’t sure whether he had any future in the sport. But with the support of the Illies Golden Gloves coaches he was encouraged to continue competing. Matthew remarks:

“I boxed poor in the last Irish elites, I didn’t know what I was going to do after that. Them boys at the Illies Golden Gloves were asking me to go to the Ulsters and I was like ‘I don’t know’. We got sparring with Aidan Walsh over Christmas but, even after that, I still wasn’t sure. I could’ve taken the easy option, Jon was Irish number two at the weight last year, but I thought if I’m going to do it, I’ll do it the hard way.”

Matthew McCole, Cahir Gormley and the coaching team from Illies Golden Gloves Boxing Club celebrate their success at the Ulster Boxing Council IABA Elite Finals.

Set up in 1998, Illies Golden Gloves Boxing Club’s ambition is not just in the ring but also to develop their facilities for the wider local community. The club approached Community Finance Ireland back in 2016, when they were awarded the finance to purchase their training facilities at the Lisfannon Industrial Estate in Buncrana and to carry out works to make premises fit for purpose as an amateur boxing club.

Mary Nohilly from Community Finance Ireland who works with the club, was overjoyed with the results, saying:

“This is a fantastic result not only for the two lads taking home the titles but also for the whole team behind the scenes who have contributed to their success. A lot of work has gone into developing the club’s facilities to give the young people of Buncrana a place to train in the sport of boxing and these two titles are the result of that work paying off. A huge congratulations and hopefully a sign of more success to come!”

If your sports club has a project in mind, but needs the funding or advice on how to get started, get in touch with Community Finance Ireland today.

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With support from Community Finance Ireland, Kilkenny County Council, and Kilkenny LEADER Partnership, Gowran on the Move will open a new state of the art, inclusive outdoor community hub in Spring 2024.  

Nestled in the heart of Gowran village, the Gowran Outdoor Hub is a one-of-a-kind project designed to bring community, wellness, and inclusivity to the area. It’s set to feature a 300-metre walking/running track, multi-use courts (tennis, basketball, and football), and an inclusive playscape for all ages/ abilities.

It will deliver a space that prioritises safety and inclusivity, catering to people of all ages and abilities, as well as fostering community engagement and strengthening social bonds by providing a space for people to gather, play, and connect, encouraging physical activity, contributing to overall health and wellbeing.

At the centre of the project is the state-of-the-art castle-themed climbing frame, the first of its kind in the Northern Hemisphere. The equipment is designed with inclusivity at its heart and children of all abilities can use the facility. It’s a flagship project to bring together all ages and abilities in an inclusive social environment welcoming all and helping to combat marginalisation.

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Local children test-drive the new state of the art inclusive play area.

Thanks to our support and the support of the Kilkenny Leader Partnership, Kilkenny County Council, the Town and Village Renewal Grant, and other fundraising activities the initiative has already secured €395,000. Construction has already begun, with the play equipment and courts already taking shape. The project is estimated for completion in spring 2024.

Denis Hynes, the Chairperson for Gowran on the Move said:

“We’re beyond excited to finally see our long term vision start to rise from the ground. We truly believe this one-of-a-kind project will inject fresh energy into the heart of the Gowran community. We’re now appealing to local people, businesses and organisations to help us with a final fundraising push to get the project across the line in time for a spring launch.”

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The Gowran on the Move Committee on site as the Outdoor Hub begins to take shape.

Barry Symes, Community Finance Ireland’s Head of Community Finance for the Republic of Ireland was thrilled that we could help make the organisation’s ambitions a reality, saying:

“It is such a joy to see the progress being made on the Gowran Intergenerational Outdoor Activity Hub project – an all-inclusive project that will bring life to the community of Gowran and be enjoyed by all children and their families for many years to come. At Community Finance Ireland we support a huge range of community and volunteer-led projects from sports projects to social enterprises to faith-based groups, but they all start with an idea and a group of people who want to make it work.

Mick, Denis and the team at the Gowran Hub project came to Community Finance Ireland with an idea and we were delighted to help them make it a reality. This group has long established roots in their community and it goes to show, when you have a vision for your local area, and the drive to create that change, there’s no limit to what you can do. If you would like to support the project in their fundraising goals, get in touch with Denis or one of the committee members

If your community group has a project in mind, but needs the funding or advice on how to get started, get in touch with Community Finance Ireland today.

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Join Phelim Sharvin in Templemore Baths in Belfast for an exciting new showcase event on 8 February 2024.

Community Finance Ireland have partnered with Belfast City Council and a number of other key strategic partners to deliver On Purpose: Inspiring and Showcasing Social Business.

The event is your opportunity to hear from success stories within the Community, Voluntary and Social Enterprise Sector as well as affording you the opportunity to chat to and get advice from sustainable finance experts about the funding opportunities available to your community organisation or social enterprise.

The event is free to attend and will take place in East Belfast’s Templemore Baths on Thursday 8 February, kicking off at 9:45am and finishing at 12:15 including a light lunch. To register attendance, click the booking link:

The Speakers

Phelim Sharvin | Sustainable Finance Expert, Community Finance Ireland

Phelim is a Chartered Banker and has Honours Degree and Masters Level qualifications in European Regional Development, Economics & Business Management. Now Head of Community Finance NI, Phelim has had sole responsibility for the CFI loan portfolio since 2007, committing approximately £80m to the wider CVSE sector and developed a successful range of bespoke loan funds most notably in the local Sports, Childcare, Green Energy and Start-Up Social Enterprise Sectors. Most recently he led the CFI Covid Grant Fund Management Team committing £22m grant funding to the local Community sector. He is a regular judge of the Social Enterprise NI Awards and chairs the CFI annual Dragons’ Den event.

Pamela Hughes | Kids Together, Belfast

Kids Together Belfast (KTB) was set up initially by two parents passionate about providing services for families, children and young people with complex needs. KTB uses the social enterprise model to deliver these services across the Belfast and Lisburn Trust areas. They are entrepreneurial and innovative in their approach and have scaled their venture over the past 8 years to employ more than 50 people in an area of high economic and social deprivation. Pamela Hughes will share the Kids Together Belfast story including how they have lobbied for policy change in terms of self directed payments, increased services to meet local needs and diversifi ed their income to help sustain the venture for the longer term.

Rónán Ó Dálaigh | Founder and CEO, Thriftify

The Thriftify platform enables charity shops to value their donations, instantly list them across all of the leading online marketplaces, and easily ship orders to circulators around the world. The social enterprise was launched in Ireland in 2018 and has been on a rapid growth trajectory; scaling to 98% market share in Ireland and expanding quickly across the UK. With a vision of changing how and why the world shops, Thriftify is building the engine for the circular economy. Charity shops receive the vast majority of used goods and, by making these items accessible to consumers who care, the company is aiming to create a new model of shopping – one that is not only sustainable but also impactful. A champion of social enterprise, Rónán has been the recipient of the Irish Presidential Youth Award, The Chancellor’s Medal at DCU and the winner of the Irish ENACTUS award for social enterprise. He was also voted a ‘Young Global Shaper’ by the World Economic Forum.

Alice Thompson | International Speaker and Purpose Coach

A proven Social Business Leader, Alice co-founded Social Bite, an Edinburgh café designed to employ and feed the homeless community. It now boasts 9 outlets, 100+ employees and has been visited by the likes of George Clooney, the Duchess of Cambridge, Bill Clinton and Leonardo DiCaprio. Alice and her team made Social Bite a nationwide success, distributing over 150,000 fresh food items each year to those in need and campaigning for policy reform. Alice was also pivotal in the establishment of ‘The World’s Big Sleepout’ which took place in 52 cities across the globe with stars such as Will Smith and Dame Helen Mirren reading bedtime stories to participants. A recipient of the RSGS Livingstone Medal, which is also held by the likes of Sir David Attenborough and Neil Armstrong, Alice is now an international speaker and one of the UK’s best known purpose coaches.

Hope to see you on 8 February.

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