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Sophie says: Make a change – no matter how small it is

May 22nd, 2024 8:00 AM

By Kieran O'Mahony

Sophie says: Make a change – no matter how small it is Image
Sophie receiving her prize from Brooklyn Beckham, left and, right, CD Glin of Pepsico Foundation. (Photo: David Andrako)

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Former BT Young Scientist winner Sophie Healy-Thow from Kinsale was honoured for her work in food sustainability in New York last week. She also explained how alcoholism in her family set her on a difference career course

AN award-winning food activist from Kinsale has credited her granny and her mum with instilling in her a sense of awareness about making your own food that has stood to her in later life.


Sophie Healy-Thow mentioned her granny, Ellen, while accepting a Global Citizen Prize in New York recently.

The former BT Young Scientist winner and UCC graduate founded the youth-led movement Act4FoodGlobal in 2021 and is also a Global Youth Campaigns co-ordinator for Gain (Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition).

Sophie, who also attended Kinsale Community School, was honoured for her work in food and nutrition and the Global Citizen Prize celebrates remarkable changemakers who are taking exceptional actions to end extreme poverty.

Speaking to The Southern Star from her home in London, Sophie said it was incredible and overwhelming to be awarded the Global Citizen Prize for her work in food and nutrition.

‘It’s really a testament to all the amazing young people I work with in Act4Food from across the world,’ said Sophie.

The 26-year-old activist was also brave enough to mention after receiving her award that her father struggled with alcohol addiction when she was growing up and that the family income was being spent on alcohol. The family moved to Kinsale to be closer to their granny.

‘Yes, I received so much support from people who have gone through similar experiences. It seems to be a hidden issue in Ireland and I hope more people can relate and talk more openly about it.’

It was while living in Kinsale, that Ellen and her daughter instilled the value of food in Sophie and set her on her career path. She credited these two independent women in her speech at the Global Citizen Prize Ceremony on May 1st.

Sophie with Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York.


‘Granny had apple trees, she went periwinkle picking on the coast of Kinsale. She also harvested seaweed and dried it and taught us about all these kind of old Ireland practices,’ she explained.

Sophie’s award-winning BTYSE project almost a decade ago, which she won with fellow students Ciara Judge and Emer Hickey, examined how farmers can increase crop growth amid a climate crisis.

‘That led me on this trajectory of activism within the food space … and full circle to this Global Citizen Prize,’ she said.

Sophie was presented with her Global Citizen Prize by David and Victoria Beckham’s son Brooklyn Beckham and Pepsico Foundation president CD Glin.

In accepting the award, she said the award is about a generation of young people who have come together to create long-lasting sustainable change to our food systems through Act4Food.

‘I urge everyone to do anything they can to transform the way they interact with their food on a daily basis, no matter how big or small,’ she said.

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