Walker Profile - Olivia Cosgrove

Olivia Cosgrove image.

 Walk Route: Northern Ireland

‘The incredible stories from others of their journeys, their ideas and how they plan to get there, gave me encouragement to keep going, and validation that I was actually doing something.’

A very active member of her community

Olivia Cosgrove, who lives in Enniskillen in Northern Ireland, has long worked with charities both within her community and abroad. After training as an accountant with KPMG in Belfast, she went on to work in Rwanda, Malawi and Kosovo, leading various successful projects with different NGOs. Following on from work she undertook after the Indonesian tsunami in 2005, she developed the software Donor2Deed which enables donors to track how their money has been spent by their chosen charity, enabling greater transparency and connection to the projects being donated to.

One of her recent projects has been the Row the Erne initiative — where she brought together people of all abilities in her local community to build a curragh, a 33-foot traditional wood and canvas boat made using age-old techniques to prepare the wood, assemble the boat and tar the canvas. The project aims to bring together people from all walks of life to have fun on the water. Olivia told us: ‘Row the Erne is empowering people of all abilities and ages to build and row traditional craft on the Erne Waterway System. Building the boat was an amazing experience and brought such a wealth of people together — now our focus is keeping her afloat and sharing the magic with others.'

Skills, inspiration and connections

She joined one of our Eden Community Camps — a lottery-funded support scheme which helps participants develop skills, find inspiration and make connections to take back to community projects. She says of her time at the Eden Community Camp: ‘I really connected with the vision of Eden and the process of how big ideas can be broken down and moved forward piece by piece, making the whole project more possible, real and achievable.’

She continues: ‘The incredible stories from others of their journeys, their ideas and how they plan to get there, gave me encouragement to keep going and validation that I was actually doing something. I absorbed how much passion people had for being involved in Eden and how powerful that is when it comes to convincing others of your ideas. They were not afraid to be pioneers, or maybe they were, but it didn’t stop them!’

She returned home from Community Camp inspired to put a cinema on the boat. Olivia told us: ‘We are always looking at new ways to enable more people to enjoy the shared experience of rowing the lakes in our curragh, we hope that it will also be something other communities will want us to bring to them. That way we can share the experience and put a little money towards the upkeep of the boat too.’