The West Cork Garda Youth Awards celebrate the achievements of young people in the region, writes Sean O’Riordan
The West Cork Garda Youth Awards celebrate the achievements of young people in the region.
THIS year all 118 young people who were nominated for a youth achievement award will get a special certificate which they can proudly add to their CV.
The large number of nominations made for the West Cork Garda Youth Awards demonstrates the contribution being made by young people to their communities and the tremendous work they do on the ground in the region, according to the judging panel.
Inspector Pat Meany, who is based at Bandon Garda Station and was chairman of the judging committee, said there was a very high standard of nominees from across the entire region: “We would also like to thank the members of the public who took the time to make the nominations and An Garda Síochána would like to pay tribute to SuperValu for their sponsorship of these awards for the past 22 years.”
Garda Damian White, spokesman for the youth awards, said it is important to recognise that all the nominees will benefit, not just the many award winners: “All nominees will receive a certificate signed by their local superintendent to highlight their nomination. Adding this to any CV will most definitely enhance it.”
There were seven overall winners; four district awards; five special achievement awards; and two group achievement awards handed out at the ceremony last Friday night at the Riverside Park Hotel, Macroom.
There was also a special award given to a teacher for his years of helping young people.
OVERALL AWARDS: (Seven Winners) Jack O’ Sullivan, Allihies, Beara (19):
During his Transition Year at Scoil Phobail Beara, Jack was part of a group called ‘Are You My Type’, which raised awareness of the issue of blood donation. They won a National Award at the Young Social Innovators scheme and the work done by this group led to a change in national policy from the Irish Blood Transfusion Board.
Jack was also involved in a campaign to promote positive mental health in the community and assisted in the publication of a book 100 Years of
Hope, documenting the resilience of the people of the Beara peninsula. He has also taken on additional responsibilities at home, where he assists with the care of his two siblings with special needs. Jack does this with a willing heart and never complains about the task at hand. He always puts other people first and himself last.
Michael Keohane, Baltimore (20):
A former student of Saint Fachtna’s de la Salle second- ary school in Skibbereen. In transition year he volunteered to teach drama to adults from the COPE Foundation. He also worked with Bandon YMCA, producing a film about the positive role of young people in society. Michael established Skibb Scenes, which provides cinema facilities and a social outlet locally, and he was also involved in setting up Skibb Smiles, raising awareness of mental health issues in the community.
He fundraised for the Aurelia Trust, which aims to support abandoned children and vulnerable adults in Romania. Michael twice travelled to Romania to volunteer with the trust. Michael was a joint winner of the AllIreland Pramerica Spirit of Community Awards. He’s fundraised for a variety of charities and has won the Ultimate Volunteer at his college, the University of Roehampton.
David Giles, Bandon (17):
Chairman of Newcestown Foróige, David is also on the National Reference Panel, which represents the 56,000 Foróige members in the country. He chaired the committee of the ‘Big Breakfast’ fundraiser, run by Newcestown Foróige, which raised €2,800 for local charities. David volunteers with Saint Michael’s Centre in Bandon, working with the elderly and was recently announced as a national winner of the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards. A student of Hamilton High School, David was the instigator of the Model United Nations in the school. He’s also part of the school’s mentoring (Meitheal) programme, where he assists first year students to adapt to secondary school. An excellent role model, David has been student of the year for the past two years. He has also completed modules 1-3 of the Foróige ‘Leadership for Life’ programme in 2016 and 2017.
Elaine Nagle, Rathmore, Co Kerry (16):
Elaine is an active member of the Social Action Group Rathmore. She has visited the elderly in her community and assists in carrying out chores and tasks for them. Elaine has been very involved in organising parties and events for the elderly and playing music to entertain at these events. She assisted in projects such as the purchase and development of the local Presentation Convent, and subsequent conversion to apartments for older people in her locality.
Elaine has completed her bronze Gaisce Award and she also partook in the October Challenge. This was a two-day walking challenge that has raised more than €10,000 over the past three years. As a student of Scoil Phobal Sliabh Luachra, Elaine took part in the ‘Build a Bank’ project in Transition Year.
Brigid O’Sullivan, Ballydehob (17):
Brigid is currently completing her Leadership for Life programme with Foróige. She gave a Powerpoint presentation to second-year students of Skibbereen Community School and is now a McAfee Safety Ambassador. As a member of Comhairle na nÓg from 2015 – 2017, Brigid attended numerous meetings of the National Executive, and has been involved in the nationwide ‘Let’s Go’ mental health campaign.
She represented Cork City Comhairle at a youth mental health consultation with Minister Helen McEntee. Brigid also took part in Brexit Consultation in Croke Park and
spoke to the Oireachtas education committee recently. She has addressed the Unicef conference in Germany on behalf of children worldwide, where she was part of a panel on climate change, and children’s rights. Brigid also represented Skibbereen Community School at a European Youth Parliament event in Cork City.
Maeve O’Sullivan, Rosscarbery (18):
Maeve volunteered as a helper on the Lourdes pilgrimage, where she looked after people with special and additional needs. Her citation said she has an outstanding, caring nature and she has given freely of her time to volunteer with CoAction on their Saturday Club, caring for children from six to 16.
Maeve has helped with the Surf 2 Heal for children with autism, and she has acted as a steward for the SCAR adventure race. She’s also been involved in fundraising for Edel House in Cork, Peru mudslide victims and the Daffodil Day for the Irish Cancer Society.
Maeve ran the Cork City Marathon to raise funds for local charities and was involved in the Transition Year project ‘Build a Bank’, in Mount Saint Michael School in Rosscarbery. She has achieved her bronze Gaisce medal, and is chairwoman of the student council.
Conor O’Neill, Baltimore (16):
Conor is a student at Skibbereen Community School and was involved in the recent fundraising fashion show. He volunteers with the Saint Vincent de Paul in his local community and has given generously of his time to fundraise for projects in his school and local area.
Conor has volunteered with the local Rath National School in the summer and he has an excellent manner with the younger children.
He goes out of his way to help others around him, always keeping an eye out for the vulnerable or those in need. His citation said Conor has a fantastic attitude to life and he brightens the lives of those around him.
He is a very accomplished soccer player and he has played rugby for Munster at underage level. Conor always has the glass-half-full approach to life and motivates those in his company.
DISTRICT AWARDS BANDON DISTRICT
Lucy Gilmartin, Bandon (16):
Lucy has been involved with the Bandon Scout Group for the past 10 years. She recently completed the Crean Challenge, which is an extreme hike in sub-zero temperatures in Iceland across 25km, and an overnight stay in an ice hut.
She was selected as one of only 20 scouts from Ireland and trained for six months for the challenge. Lucy has recently been appointed as senior patrol leader and she has also completed the Venture Challenge this year. This involved a tough expedition, completing a 100km hike over five days. She has volunteered to work with a local charity shop in Bandon.
A pupil of Colaiste na Toirbhirte in Bandon, Lucy has represented her school in the Bandon Rotary Competition. She also assisted with the clean-up operation after the floods in Bandon.
BANTRY DISTRICT Padraig Reidy, Goleen (19):
Padraig has been involved in a wide variety of community, voluntary and sporting organisations in his local area. He’s a member of Goleen Foróige, where he has displayed great leadership skills, where he has earned the respect of his peers and been an excellent role model for others. Padraig has also volunteered in assisting the Goleen & District Community Council with their local events. In Transition Year at Schull Community College, he was involved with Friends of the Elderly and he was awarded the Marie Hamilton Scholarship in his school in 2017. Padraig was awarded the Schull & District Community Alert person of the year — a testament to his endeavours. He has assisted the Jerry Carey Walk Committee, as they raise funds for local charities and he coaches the local Minor football team, acting as a mentor to the youth.
CLONAKILTY DISTRICT Karina Lavery, Clonakilty (17):
Karina is a member of Clonakilty Foróige and as part of her club activities she began to volunteer at Saint Fachtna’s Club several years ago. Saint Fachtna’s holds a weekly social night for the elderly of Clonakilty and surrounding areas. Around 70 people attend each week to enjoy bingo, music, dance, and refreshments. Karina has never shied away from work, or getting stuck in, building up a strong bond with the committee, the elderly, and the other volunteers. She interacts in a wonderful way with everyone, and brings a warm attitude to the club every week.
Karina has completed the Foróige Leadership for Life programme, and is in her second year of becoming a leader in her Foróige club. She is also vice-treasurer of Clonakilty Youth Centre and actively involved in fundraising activities. Most recently they organised a Tommy Fleming concert in the local parish church and it was a resounding success.
MACROOM DISTRICT Qiqa Maqubela, Millstreet (17):
Qiqa has been living in Millstreet since 2013. His citation describes him as “having a radiant and bubbly personality and is always willing to help”. He attends Millstreet Secondary School, where he has settled in very well. Qiqa is very popular amongst his peers in school and he is an accomplished soccer player, and a talented musician. He takes a leading role in organising activities for others in the Millstreet Accommodation Centre, and he interacts very well with the younger children. He is always watching out for the elderly in the community if they require assistance and never seeks the limelight or praise for his actions. The younger children look up to Qiqa, seeing him as an effective role model in life. Qiqa is always in good humour, and his citation pointed out he ‘is a great example of seeing the positives in life.’
GROUP AWARD: (Two Winners) Saint Brogan’s College Certified Irish Angus Beef Group:
Mark Shorten, Enniskeane (17), and Conor Lehane, Timoleague (18): Mark and Conor are both sixth-year students at Saint Brogan’s College in Bandon. In Transition Year, they entered the BT Young Scientist Awards, and their project “Testing for Trichloromethane in Milk”, won a highly commended award. Last year they entered the Certified
Irish Angus Beef schools’ competition, where they won five Angus calves to rear until slaughter. They held a very successful Angus Beef Night in a local venue, with 90 local people from the business and farming community in attendance. The event raised €1,600, which Mark and Conor donated to Cancer Connect. They have invited several classes from their school to the farm to see the calves being reared and to show them what farm life is all about.
The calves have now been slaughtered; they have paid their bills; and Conor and Mark have decided to donate €500 to West Cork Rapid Response and €500 to Saint Brogan’s College, to support students who may need intervention outside the education system, such as mental health supports, and counselling.
Their citation stated they have a great responsibility and a caring side, giving back to the community and trying to make a difference in helping others.
Clonakilty Community College West Cork Youth Mental Health Group:
Szebi Dudas, James Calnan, Alan Phair, Keith Kelly, James Furlong. All five of these students were involved in organising the 6th West Cork Youth Mental Health Day in Dunmanway last March. Planning for the event began five months beforehand as 15 West Cork schools are invited to participate in the event. In order for it to be successful a lot of planning and effort were required. The group promoted the event through artwork, posters, and contacting other secondary schools via email. They attended planning meetings, sharing ideas and brainstorming. Szebi opened proceedings on the day, in front of 150 students, a daunting task which he carried off with confidence.
He outlined the structure and theme of the day — “It’s OK not to feel OK”. The group assisted in running the entire event, welcoming schools, dividing the students into groups, setting up workshops, taking photos and assisting speakers and facilitators in necessary tasks. They also cleaned up the hall after all the schools had departed. This group showed commitment and passion, and they recognised the relevance and importance of showing that support is there. The message to the youth of West Cork that it is vital to speak up, and reach out for support.
SPECIAL ACHIEVEMENT AWARD: (Five Winners) Daisy Garde, Bandon, (17):
has a condition called Ehlers Danlos syndrome (EDS), which is a connective tissue disorder. This means that she frequently dislocates her joints, is in chronic pain and fatigue and has a reduced lung capacity which makes everyday tasks difficult for her. Despite this Daisy is an active member of the Bandon Scout Group.
She has undergone first aid training with the scouts, with the training provided by the Irish Red Cross. Daisy underwent a CPR course several years ago, but little did she realise how important these skills would prove to be. On October 30, 2017, Daisy’s mother, Aoife, collapsed at home and stopped breathing. Daisy rang 999 and was instructed to begin CPR, which she did, it was 21 minutes before the ambulance arrived at the scene. Her mother is recovering well at home, but if it were not for Daisy’s quick thinking and knowledgeable reactions the outcome could have been very different.
Rachel Hurley, Kinsale (18):
Rachel has been a long-term member of the Kinsale Youth Project and she has grown up facing adversity and made positive personal changes that have seen her develop into a warm, caring member of her local community. She faced some very difficult personal challenges, but she showed great determination in facing these issues and took steps to deal with these matters.
Rachel is an invaluable support at home to her mother and is a valued volunteer at the Kinsale Community Youth Café. She wanted to give something back, and this was a means for her to achieve this. She volunteers at the café several days a week, organising events. But her true benefit is her ability to connect with people, spending time with them and providing a safe space for young people locally.
Rachel is studying Youth and Community Work and is highly motivated in her studies. She also volunteers with the Bandon Justice Project. Her citation said Rachel has been an invaluable support to her family in times of hardship and wishes to help other young people through her experiences.
Steven Bradley, Clondrohid (18):
Steven was born with hemiplegia, a condition that affects the left side of his body. Despite this, he has faced his adversity with courage, determination, and grace. Steven has participated in the Templemore Games, as part of the Rebel Wheelers Club, where he came second in both the javelin and discus events. He has assisted in Camp Abilities, a camp for the visually impaired. Here, Steven assists and volunteers to set up activities for those with eyesight problems. He has qualified for the Irish Wheelchair Sport in the 400m, 800m, javelin and discus events. A student of De La Salle College, Macroom, he inspires his fellow students and teaching staff alike. Steven is a remarkable young man who demonstrates the value of being positive, upbeat and good humoured. He is aware that his condition affects him on a daily basis, but he refuses to be defined by it.
Lisa Hurley, Bandon (20):
Lisa was a member of the Bandon Youth project for nearly 10 years, where she made an enormous impact on her peers. She is always ready to help others and Lisa has a great personality, with a kind heart. She has volunteered to work with the elderly in her community and assisted with local family fun days and clean-up events. Lisa also took part in the Foróige ‘Citizenship Programme’, where she used her talents to make a positive difference in the world around her. One particular incident stands out where Lisa made a real impact. She was working in a shop in Bandon when she noticed that a customer appeared unwell. Lisa observed that the lady’s face appeared fallen on one side, her speech was slightly slurred, and she struggled with her shopping. After dealing with another customer, Lisa ran out of the shop in a bid to track down this lady, who had disappeared from view. She was able to alert the lady’s family and they located the lady, who was then taken to the doctor. The doctor confirmed that this lady had suffered a stroke and she was taken to hospital for treatment. Only for Lisa’s intervention, this situation could have had a tragic ending. Her quick thinking and community spirit definitely made a positive difference.
Orla Scanlon, Kinsale (20):
Orla is a past pupil of Kinsale Community School and was very highly regarded by all in her time there. She was a
valued member of the school community, and very dedicated to her family and friends, always prepared to help and support others. Orla has been involved in organising the Pink Ribbon Walk in Kinsale and has fundraised for other charities, especially Cerebral Palsy.
Orla organised a Flash Mob to promote positive mental health, and create awareness to support Kinsale Youth Support Services (KYSS). Orla has faced many challenges in her own life, including being diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. But she has faced these with resilience and courage.
Orla is a member of Cork South Civil Defence, where her determination to learn creates a really positive spark amongst those around her. Her citation said Orla’s can-do attitude is refreshing to behold, and her good nature is infectious. It said she is an inspiration to all, and she has displayed outstanding qualities as she contributes to the community around her.
OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTION TO YOUTH AWARD JJ McLaughlin, Castletownbere:
JJ has made a lifetime contribution to young people in the Beara peninsula. Throughout his teaching career at Scoil Phobail Bheara, he always championed the underdog, or those less fortunate in the community. He was always available for advice, and very approachable.
Outside of his work, JJ immersed himself in community activities and has been actively involved with Saint Vincent de Paul locally, where he volunteers in their charity shop. Through this community work, he challenges the barriers that exist that prevent some young people from active participation in their school or community life.
JJ retired from the school in 2011, but still gives his time to accompany students on trips, or competitions and he plays an integral part in the Transition Year programme in the school. Only last May, he organised for the students to attend at Dáil Éireann, Google headquarters, the Criminal Courts of Justice, and the European Commission.
JJ’s dedication knows no limits and he has been the President’s Award Leader (Gaisce) in Beara for 40 years. He is also an active member of his local GAA club, as well as the Red Cross Defibrillator group. His citation said his ongoing dedication and commitment to the youth of Beara ‘is a true testament to his contribution to youth’.
Overall award winners in front Conor O’Neill (left) and Michael Keohane, both from Baltimore, with back from left, Elaine Nagle, Rathmore; Jack O’Sullivan, Beara; Brigid O’Sullivan, Ballydehob, David Giles, Bandon and Maeve O’Sullivan, Rosscarbery in the West Cork Garda Youth Awards 2017 at the Riverside Park Hotel, Macroom.
James O’Mahony (left) and Don Davis who both acted as MCs.
Conor O’Neill, Baltimore, with his mother Maura O’Neill, who won a district award in 1997.
Chief Supt Con Cadogan presents a special achievement award to Daisy Garde, Bandon .
Group award winners Mark Shorten and Conor Lehane Certified Irish Angus Beef group (Enniskeane and Timoleague).
Qiqa Maqubella (Millstreet), district winner for Macroom.
Padraig Reidy (Goleen), district award winner for Bantry.
Karina Lavery (Clonakilty), district winner for Clonakilty.
Maeve O’Sullivan, Rosscarbery, one of overall award winners.
Chief Supt Con Cadogan presents a special achievement award to Lisa Hurley, Bandon.
Brigid O’Sullivan, Ballydehob, one of overall award winners.
.J.J McLaughlin, Beara , winner of the outstanding contribution to youth award.
LEFT: Group award winners West Cork Youth Mental Health group (Clonakilty), Nola Dubuisson, James Furlong, Keith Kelly, Alan Phayer, Aideen Butler, Szebasztian Dudas and James Calnan.
ABOVE: Anne Marie McMahon. assistant commissioner, presents Elaine Nagle, Rathmore, with one of overall award winners prizes.
Jack O’Sullivan, Beara, who was one of overall award winners.
Special achievement award winner Rachel Hurley from Kinsale.