Family Carers Ireland seeks nominations for awards which recognise, celebrate and shine a light on the remarkable contribution of Ireland’s 355,000 family carers.

The 2020 Netwatch Carer of the Year Awards were launched in Swords today with scenes of celebration as inspirational teenager Jack O’Donovan completed an extraordinary 5km fundraiser.

The 17 year old from Fingal, who lives with cerebral palsy, has been walking 400 metres every day with the help of his family including three younger sisters to raise vital funds, awareness and much-needed recognition for the work of family carers*.

Jack, whose mother Lynsey was the Netwatch North Dublin Carer of the Year in 2019, was met at the finish line this afternoon by his family and supporters including Netwatch Group CEO Wendy Hamilton and their Brand Ambassador, Irish rugby legend, Mick Galwey.

Netwatch Group CEO, Wendy Hamilton commented “At Netwatch, we all feel very privileged to have this opportunity to work with such a vital service. We acknowledge the strength of Family Carers, whose service to the country has become more critical in recent months and certainly more difficult. The decision to look after a loved and vulnerable relative may be a simple one to make, but it is powerfully difficult to deliver on. Lockdown has not made it any easier. Jack’s great effort here today shows us how important it is to move past the language of what can’t be done, towards the language of what must be done. This is our second year supporting the Netwatch Carer of the Year Awards and every day we spend with FCI we learn something new.”

Netwatch Carer of the Year Awards launch

Family carers across Ireland make extraordinary sacrifices and work extremely hard, sometimes 24 hours a day, to provide care for family members and friends in their own homes. The Covid-19 pandemic has further highlighted the importance of their role in society as they prop up our healthcare system by keeping their loved ones at home and out of hospital. With limited access to essential services and particularly respite, family carers are overstretched and receive little acknowledgement for their unpaid work which saves the State €10bn each year.

“The awards recognise Ireland’s 355,000 family carers for their unyielding sacrifice and commitment to care for their loved ones at home. Whilst 2020 has been challenging for people across Ireland, this has particularly been the case family carers, many of whom lost their vital supports and services during lockdown. Now more than ever, they deserve to be recognised and celebrated for their enormous contribution to our society,” said Catherine Cox, Head of Communications and Carer Engagement with Family Carers Ireland.

Also speaking at the awards, Jack’s mother and last year’s Netwatch North Dublin Carer of the Year Lynsey O’Donovan said:

“Receiving the award last year was simply amazing and a very special day for all our family. Jack with the help of his sisters did this walk to raise much needed funds and bring awareness to the wonderful work of Family Carers Ireland and the CRC. We are so grateful to them both”.

Nomination forms are now available online at, through Family Carers Ireland’s 21 resource centres nationwide or via the National Freephone Careline 1800 24 07 24.

The 2020 Netwatch Carer of the Year Awards will be presented by Family Carers Ireland patrons Mary Kennedy and Marty Whelan at a scaled-back, socially distanced event at The Westin Hotel, Dublin on November 6th.


* Jack O’Donovan is raising money for both Family Carers Ireland and the Central Remedial Clinic with his five kilometre walk.