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Co Limerick and Co L'Derry Students Names All-Ireland Youth Volunteers of the Year

01 April 2016

Students honoured at 2016 Pramerica Spirit of Community Awards gala and received personal congratulations from guest presenter Bressie.

Pramerica logoFor the exemplary work they carry out in their local communities, Carla McErlean from Kilrea in Co L’Derry and Cían O’Grady from Herbertstown in Co Limerick have been selected from amongst hundreds of youth volunteers as All Ireland Youth Volunteers of the Year in the 2016 Pramerica Spirit of Community Awards.

At the gala awards’ ceremony held on Thursday 10th March at Lough Eske Castle Hotel & Spa, Donegal, Carla and Cían each received €1,000 for a charity of their choice, a gold medallion and crystal trophy for their school, presented by multi-platinum selling songwriter and music producer Niall Breslin (Bressie). 

In May, Carla and Cían will travel on an all-expenses paid trip to Washington D.C. to meet up with youth volunteers from across America and participate in the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards ceremony.

From Co. L’Derry, Carla is a sixth form student at Loreto College. Since the loss of her best friend in September 2014 to a brain tumour, Carla was motivated to do something out of the ordinary to make her friend proud by raising funds for cancer charities. Carla organised various events with her closest friends in memory of her friend Anna, raising over £11,000 for Cancer Fund for Children. She also coordinated ‘The Goosebury Festival,’ a special event held at Anna’s house which raised over £20,000 for Cancer Fund for Children and the Cancer Unit in Belfast.

Cían, a sixth year student at John the Baptist Community School in Limerick has undertaken volunteering both in his local community and in Limerick more widely. He volunteers in the soup kitchen for St. Vincent de Paul and at St. Michael’s nursing home in Caherconlish and helps to organise street festivals and family fun days in the community. Cian helps provide dinners in the local hall six times a year, which enables both locals and older people to come together for a social afternoon. He also sits on the ‘Tidy Towns’ committee in his area and volunteers with the Simon Community to raise funds for homeless people each Christmas.

The only all-Ireland youth initiative of its kind, the Pramerica Spirit of Community Awards programme recognises young people for their motivation, service and impact on their local communities across the island of Ireland.

“Congratulations to all of the 20 finalists who are inspiring individuals. It really is testament to their character to be nominated in the 2016 Pramerica Spirit of Community Awards and I am honoured to be able to acknowledge the dedication and commitment they have shown in giving back to their communities,” said Bressie in his keynote address.  “Carla and Cían are extraordinary youth ambassadors who are actively making a difference in their communities, and it has been a pleasure to celebrate their accomplishments.”

The programme is run in partnership with The National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD), The General Teaching Council for Northern Ireland (GTCNI), with support from Scouting Ireland and Foróige.

Highly commended in the junior category were Annagh McBreen from Bailieborough in Co Cavan and Adrian McMyler from Buncrana in Co Donegal.

“In this special 10th anniversary year, we’re honoured to showcase young people’s commitment to volunteerism and tonight’s 20 finalists are no exception,” said Caroline Faulkner, senior managing director, Pramerica Systems Ireland. “Their stories are truly remarkable, especially those of Carla and Cían who have proved to be wonderful role models and are inspiring individuals.”

The selection committee that chose the two All-Ireland Youth Volunteers of the Year were: Andrea McBride, Vice President - Systems, Pramerica Systems Ireland, Ivan Arbuthnot, Chairperson of GTCNI, Wendy Osborne OBE, Chief Executive of Volunteer Now, Sean Campbell, CEO, Foróige, Nina Arwitz, Chief Executive of Volunteer Ireland, Clive Byrne, Director of NAPD and Kieran Cody, Scouting Ireland.

The 2016 Finalists:

  • Annagh McBreen from Bailiebrough, Co. Cavan
  • Adrian McMyler from Buncrana, Co. Donegal
  • Aoife Harrington from Athy, Co. Kildare
  • Carla McErlean from Kilrea, Co. L’Derry
  • Chloe Austin from Lurgan, Co. Armagh
  • Cian O Grady from Limerick, Co Limerick
  • Curtis Johnston from Antrim, Co Antrim
  • David Boyce from Askeaton, Co. Limerick
  • Emma Moriarty from Walkinstown, Co Dublin
  • Grace Ferrick from Curracloe, Enniscorthy, Co Wexford
  • Grace Fitzpatrick from Belfast, Co Antrim
  • Helen McFadden from Castlebar, Co Mayo
  • Katie Callaghan from Newtownabbey, Co Antrim
  • Lauren McAreavey from Belfast, Co Antrim
  • Nathan O'Kane from Antrim, Co Antrim
  • Rachel Hurley from Ballyburden, Cork, Co Cork
  • Rosin McErlain from Portglenone, Ballymena, Co Antrim
  • Róisín Neville from Cork, Co Cork
  • Sarah Connor from Ballybrit, Galway, Co Galway
  • Vanessa Donovan from, Dublin, Co Dublin


The full biographies of all finalists are available at www.pramerica.ie/spirit.

Learn more about the 2016 Pramerica Spirit of Community Awards on the Pramerica Spirit of Community Facebook page and Twitter feed @Pramerica_SOC, or visit www.pramerica.ie/spirit

All Ireland Youth Volunteers of the Year

Pictured are All-Ireland Youth Volunteers of the Year Carla McErlean and Cían O’Grady with guest of honour Niall Breslin (Bressie) andCaroline Faulkner, Senior Managing Director, Pramerica Systems Ireland at the 2016 Pramerica Spirit of Community Awards.