In the establishment of Ireland’s first ever community support group for an airport, the Friends of Shannon Airport (FOSA) recently met and elected officials.
The founding committee of FOSA comprises Chairman John Quinlivan, Chairman; Sant Singh, Vice Chair; Secretary Joe Meaney, Secretary; and Donna Marie O’Neill, Treasurer.
FOSA will now embark on setting up its operating structures and establishing a programme of activity aimed at supporting the airport as it continues on the growth path it set off on two years ago when it achieved independence. The origins of the group date back to a meeting last year at the airport, which facilitated requests from people keen to see how they could support the airport and help build on the momentum of the airport’s positive start as an independent entity. So far, members of the public from Clare, Limerick, Galway, Tipperary and Cork have expressed interest in getting involved in the group.
Neil Pakey, Shannon Group Chief Executive, said: “There is a really strong sense of community around Shannon Airport and a sense of belonging that stretches far and wide, up the west coast, deep into the midlands and south to Cork and Kerry. It is very encouraging that this initiative has been met with such strong pledges of support and we look forward to a long and enjoyable journey with everyone involved.
“There are a small number of such groups internationally and experience demonstrates that they play a vital supporting role to the airport by providing many ways for supporters to quite simply embed the airport deeper into the communities. Based on the relationship between Shannon and the region and, indeed, the spirit of volunteerism locally, I have no doubt FOSA will have a hugely beneficial impact on the airport and customers using it.”
The Clare Volunteer Centre, which is part of the national network of volunteer centres that assist in establishing and supporting volunteer groups, played a key role in getting FOSA off the ground by facilitating initial meetings and devising the structures to ensure the group has a clear brief and terms of reference that complements the needs of the airport.
Sharon Meaney, Manager of the Clare Volunteer Centre, said that the skill-sets and experience of those who have already volunteered their support will ensure that it gets off to the best possible start. “The people who stepped forward and put their hands up for the Friends of Shannon Airport comprise an excellent mix in that they are highly skilled, have vast experience in relevant areas, and there is also a really good spread in terms of age profile. The common denominator for all of them is that they genuinely want to see the development and success of Shannon Airport and that is a huge plus. We can only see this building, with more volunteers coming forward in the months and years ahead.”
Though independent of the airport, the aim of the new group, which will have a hot-desk at the airport to operate from when needed, is to develop deeper community involvement with the airport through a range of supporting activities that will be supplementary to anything currently taking place at the airport.
Future activities are likely to include developing an Airport Ambassador’s programme to welcome and assist passengers on arrival and establishing a national school tours programme for the airport.
John Quinlivan, FOSA Chairman, said: “Shannon Airport is the region’s best asset. The airport has always been an important part of the local community and the wider region and has fantastic community support. We look forward to supporting the excellent work done by Shannon Group.”