County Irishman of the Year awarded

UNION COUNTY, NJ — Patrick Wildridge will be honored by the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick of Union County, on March 10, 2016, at the Annual Irish Heritage Dinner. He is this year’s recipient of the Irishman of the Year, William A. Boyle Sr. Award for his philanthropic and service work. The event will take place at the Grand Summit Hotel in Summit, N.J.

Wildridge has traced his heritage back to County Dublin in the mid-1700s. He was born in Trenton. His father was a racehorse trainer, and he spent his summers in Long Branch. He studied finance at the University of South Florida in Tampa, Fla. He is now a proud father of his son Brian, a junior who plays lacrosse and football at St. Joseph High School in Metuchen.

In 2013, Wildridge received the Irish Business Association’s Company of The Year award in New Jersey. In 2010, he received a distinguished service award from the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick of Union County. For many years, he’s supported local hospitals, fire departments, and the New Jersey State Firefighters’ Mutual Benevolent Association, along with a children’s burn camp in Connecticut, Eden Autism Services, Autism Speaks, and Autism New Jersey.

He also donated labor and construction for helping to build the renowned “Sandy Ground Project,” a playground project by the Where Angels Play Foundation, which was inspired by the school shootings in Newtown, Connecticut. The effort helped to restore the storm-ravaged east coast with living memorials to all children who were victims of violence, while creating safe, fun places for children to be children. Twenty-six, 100 percent handicap-accessible playgrounds were built along the New Jersey, New York and Connecticut coastal communities hit by Hurricane Sandy and each one was named in memory of the 26 lives lost in Newtown, Conn.

Wildridge is the local franchise office owner of Paul Davis Restoration of Union and Essex counties, a leading provider of fire, water and mold damage restoration services for residential and commercial properties since 2002. His company’s customer service scores are at the top of the measurement scale for work and service. Wildridge was also selected to serve as a general contractor for multiple television shows on Discovery Network.

“At first, I joined the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick because I knew a few friends that were involved, and I thought it would be a fun way to market my business,” Wildridge said. “After just a few months, I realized I wanted to become more involved on a personal and charitable basis.”

The Friendly Sons of St. Patrick originated in 1771 in Philadelphia. Some of its earliest members included men dedicated to the pursuit of liberty, including General George Washington. According to the Friendly Sons’ history, George Washington stated, “I accept with singular pleasure, the ensign of so worthy a fraternity as that of the Sons of St. Patrick in this City,” in 1782, seven years before he would go on to become president of the United States.

The Union County chapter was organized in 1962 and continues to provide scholarships to those of Irish descent and support worthy charitable causes such as the Children’s Specialized Hospital. Their commitment to volunteerism is upheld by events and activities.

“This year wasn’t all that different than previous years,” Wildridge said. “I just remained committed to the causes of the organization.”

The organization, now based in Cranford, meets monthly to share experiences and heritage.