Holidays Fit For Heroes winner, Cathal Oakes (left), at the Ballincollig parkrun.
A 48-year-old search-and-rescue pilot and coastguard based in Ennis and Shannon has been gifted a €1,000 holiday voucher from Sports Travel International in acknowledgement of his inspirational work during the Covid-19 pandemic. As a search-and-rescue pilot for the Irish Coast Guard Helicopter R115, Cathal Oakes and his colleagues spend their work hours risking their lives to help others.
Nominated by his sister, Sinnead Oakes, Cathal was described as ‘the ultimate unsung hero’ who has been a ‘lifeline to so many people’. “Cathal really is the most compassionate, giving and considerable person, with an endless capacity for those in need.”
Aside from his commendable work in his career, his compassion and generosity are seen among those closest to him. Cathal spends his spare time volunteering for St Vincent de Paul. During the lockdown he ran the ‘Vinnie the Van’ initiative which delivered to those in need when they were unable to leave their homes to access services.
A family man to the core, Cathal carries out window visits to his elderly parent and aunt. He also took part in regular exercise bike sessions via FaceTime with his brother, who has additional needs, in order to keep him active and motivated.
A keen fitness enthusiast, Cathal has been running for years now, completing a couple of marathons in 2010 and 2011. And, in October 2020, he completed a solo sub-three-hour marathon! In selecting Cathal as a winner, the judges commented: Cathal epitomises what we are looking for in celebrating a frontline hero, a hero at work and at home, risking his life to save others as part of his work then in his own time being an unsung hero to friends, neighbours and strangers, added to that his sub-three-hour marathon! Chapeau! Congratulations.”
When asked how he would use his award, Cathal said he would like to take part in an international marathon when possible, ‘maybe Boston’. Looking ahead to the future in a safe world, he is ‘looking forward to a few weddings’ particularly that of his nominator Sinnead. He is also looking forward to the ‘Dublin marathon’ and ‘a few nights out’!
Aren’t we all! Congratulations Cathal, and stay safe!