THIS year there were 117 nominations received for the West Cork Garda Youth Awards, in association with SuperValu.
The standard of applicants has increased every year since Garda James O’Mahony launched the first ever awards in 1995.
Chief Superintendent Con Cadogan said: ‘Every year it amazes me how much great work the youth are doing in our local communities. Sometimes younger people can get a bad reputation, but when you hear some of the achievements our nominees have accomplished over the years, your views are quickly changed.’
Aisling Fitzgerald (20) from Smorane, Skibbereen
Aisling is an accomplished musician with Comhaltas, she has Cork, Munster and All-Ireland titles to her name in both band and individual categories, she plays music every weekend in the Nursing Home and also at Community Hospital in Skibbereen. She is very keen on rowing and is a coach to 14, 15 and 16 year olds. She has helped out at the Rahoon Family Centre where she helps children from disadvantaged backgrounds with their homework.
John Walsh (16) Fartha, Riverstick, Kinsale
John is a 5th Year in Kinsale Community School, acknowledged and celebrated as a great volunteer. He involves himself in all school activities and is equally active in Kinsale town. John also raised €200 for the Donal Walsh Cancer Fund.
Aleesha Wiegandt (18) Ballybare, Ballydehob
Aleesha is a mental health campaigner for the ‘I am Whole’ Mental Awareness campaign. She organised and promoted the ‘Whole Hour’ on positive mental health at Schull Community College for 400 students. She has been involved in Dáil na n-Óg and the National Youth Council of Ireland.
David Lucey (18) Mountainview, Knockeenacuthig, Macroom
David is a young, dynamic volunteer coach with his local GAA club and has coached in the local national schools as well as in the Cúl Camps in the summer months. He is a member of the Macroom parish Mission of Hope for the Homeless.
James Power (17) Millview Terrace, Dripsey
James is unique in Irish boxing circles – a professional at the ripe old age of 17, in Mexico where he is allowed to box at 17. James’s training regime begins at the unearthly hour of 6am before he heads off to school at Coachford College where he is in Leaving Cert.
Moira Barrett (18) Lyre, Clonakility
Moira is a very successful cross-country runner and has won county, Munster and All-Ireland titles at all the underage levels for her club –Under 10, 12, 14, 16 and 18. She has also achieved highly at track and field events. She took up camogie with Ballinascarthy at 10 years of age and has competed for them in Cork county events at Under 10, 12, 14, 16 and 18 levels.
Mike Madden (18) Cluain-an-óir, Belgooly
Mike was spotted aged 9 helping out with the Christmas Bazaar in Riverstick and dragging a black plastic bag full of rubbish almost bigger than himself. When Kinsale Community School set up a fundraising committee with a view to raising much-needed finance for its running track and all-weather pitch, Mike decided he would organise a tractor run in support of the venture and raised €4,000. When Storm Ophelia hit in October 2016 Mike was heroic in his efforts to help anyone and everyone in need.
Cathy Hynes (17) C/O Kinsale Community School
Cathy has fundraised for the school on several occasions and volunteers in her local community also. Last October, she represented the school at the European Youth Parliament in Rotterdam. She is a Ladybird Leader with the Irish Girl Guides and she volunteered to assist people with physical disabilities on a trip to Lourdes.
Leah Pyburn (17) Árd Cléire, Schull
The Fastnet Film Festival has quickly become arguably the busiest week of the year in Schull. With this comes huge pressure to deliver an outstanding product to visitor and local alike. Volunteers such as Leah Pyburn make it possible.
Natasha Sutton (18) Convent Court, Clonakility
Natasha has held the positions of secretary and chairperson of Clonakilty Foróige. She has been involved in fundraising and community enhancement projects. She is chairperson of Clonakilty Community Youth Centre.
Cathal Bradley (16) Toureengarrive, Ballydesmond
Cathal is a 5th Year student at Scoil Phobail Sliabh Luchra, Rathmore and is a member of the Rathmore Social Action Group for the past four years. He has achieved a Full Attendance Award at school for the past three years. He has achieved the Bronze and Silver standards in the President’s Gaisce awards and is soon to challenge for Gold.
Six students from Maria Immaculata Community College Dunmanway raised €24,000 in the Dunmanway area for the Habitat for Humanity charity.
This entailed several fundraising activities over time – cake sales, quizzes, discos, drama nights, head shaves, raffles, Christmas jumper days, bingo night, bag-packing, to name a few.
They spent three weeks in Zambia, lived in a township and built a house for a grandmother who was rearing her grandchildren who had Aids.
Tommi Shanley (17) and Sinéad Mears (21) Surf 2 Heal, Inchydoney
Tommi Shanley and Sinéad Mears embody the spirit of all the volunteers who make such a difference in the lives of the children and parents who attend the Surf 2 Heal camp.
Both have volunteered for the past two years where their enthusiasm and energy have endeared them to all who are involved at the Inchydoney camp. Tommi and Sinéad are students of the Sacred Heart Secondary School, Clonakilty and both serve on the student council.
Special Achievement Awards
Eoghan Barry (15) Kilkilleeen, Church Cross, Skibbereen
While a pupil of Lisheen national school, and despite a physical handicap in being born with an upper limb deficiency, Eoghan took an interest in rowing.
However, a lack of a suitable prosthetic has limited his opportunities to date. Nevertheless, he has become a very able cox and has inspired his team-mates to achieve great things.
Cathal Ryan (2/10/00) Kilmurriheen, Spurhill, Ballinhassig
Cathal Ryan suffered a birth injury which left him with some impairment to his left arm. Cathal also suffers from scoliosis, (curved spine) and has had to learn to write with his right hand again.
His condition has not dampened his enthusiasm for sport; throwing the javelin and discus are his favourites. Cathal is a member of the Rebel Wheelers Club.
Sam Tietjen (18) Tallon Heights, Castletownbere
Sam has faced a lot of disruption in his life. Lesser figures would have buckled under such stress, but Sam attends school every day with a smile on his face. He displays a caring disposition towards his peers and the entire school community.
Síofra Nee (17) Inches, Eyeries
Carrying on the family tradition of volunteering, she spear-headed her school’s St Vincent de Paul appeal and with her friend Derarca O’Shea she assisted with the Well Being Week in school and organised the healthy eating aspect of the week.
She is very active in sport – she plays basketball and football for the school at senior level and is a member of Beara Ladies Gaelic Football Club.
Community Safety Award
Shona O Sullivan (16) Kilgobbin, Ballinspittle and Mary Collins (18) Gortmacrusha, Ballinspittle.
Shona O’Sullivan and Mary Collins organised an Information Day on CRY – that is Cardiac Risk in the Young organisation.
The encouraged locals to use the defibrillator and learn CPR.
They also surveyed members of both Foróige and the local GAA club on what they would like to see done to help the health of young people in the Ballinadee/Ballinspittle area.
Outstanding Contribution to Youth Award
John Joe Lyons, Clonakility
John Joe has given a lifetime of dedicated voluntary service to his local community. He joined the Irish Red Cross in 1972 and was chairman of the Clonakilty branch for 15 years.
He served as Cork Area vice-chairman for 9 years, a position that he still holds today.
John Joe played a major role in deploying Cork Area Red Cross volunteers in various storms and severe weather conditions since 2004.