Hugely successful Laois Offaly Garda Youth Awards take place in the Killeshin Hotel

Hugely success Laois Offaly Garda Youth Awards take place in the Killeshin Hotel

Award winners and recipients at the Laois Offaly Garda Youth Awards in the Killeshin Hotel Portlaoise.

The first Laois and Offaly Garda Youth Awards took place at the Killeshin Hotel this Friday night.

It was attended by over 150 guests, which included young people, their families and friends. The event celebrated the achievements of the recipients, aged between 13 and 21, across four categories; individual award, special achievement award, group award and community safety awards, resulting in 16 individual awards and 3 group awards to young people being awarded at the ceremony in the presence of their peers and family.

The event was by Supermacs, the evening and Gardaí from both Portlaoise, Tullamore and Birr District Community Policing Units, Juvenile Liaison Officers and members of the organising committee, were all in attendance along with Superintendent Anthony Pettit, Portlaoise, Inspector Oliver Baker, Tullamore and Inspector Eamon Curley, Birr.

Chief Superintendent John Scanlan, Divisional Officer Laois Offaly, who initiated the Awards within the Laois Offaly Garda Division, Minister for Justice Charles Flanagan TD, Pat Mc Donagh CEO, Supermac’s presented certificates to all of the awards recipients on the night.

Also in attendance was the former Rose of Tralee, Jennifer Byrne from Offaly. 

The Laois recipients were:

Ryan Fogarty

Ryan Fogarty is a Portlaoise District Award winner nominated by Melissa O’Neill of Portlaoise Family Resource Centre.

Ryan has overcome a number of adversities during his life, however he is keen to use those experiences to help others. Ryan has been attending Portlaoise Family Resource Centre’s Youth Clubs over the last year and has really shone as a natural leader in recent months. As a reward for his commitment and dedication to the youth club, he was invited to participate in a week long residential exchange with a youth group from Scotland and another youth group from Northern Ireland. Ryan was involved in activities focusing on Brexit and the impact it will have on young people. He volunteered to take a lead on an activity whereby he gave a number of speeches in the Parliament Buildings at Stormont. This was a huge step for Ryan, it would have been outside his comfort zone and extremely challenging for him. He executed his speeches with ease and was an excellent ambassador for Portlaoise. Ryan continues to show commitment to the Family resource centre by offering to become a young volunteer and to support staff in delivering activities to younger groups.

Margaret Doheny

Margaret Doheny is a Portlaoise District Award winner. Nominated by Catherine Donlon of Mountrath Community School.

During Margaret’s time at Mountrath Community School she shone as a person who radiated positivity, good humour, cheerfulness and had brilliant outlook on life. Margaret stood out for her leadership qualities. Throughout five years these skills were inspiring, culminating in her Prefect role at 6th year. Margaret was selected by her peers for this role, to lead, guide and represent the student body.

This achievement reflected her standing in the school community. Margaret was always positive, encouraging of others and most helpful in and out of class. Her contribution to the school was immense. As a member of the Travelling community Margaret is also hugely proud of her career path. Margaret is studying Hospitality in WIT with a view to following it up with a career in Hotel Management. Margaret works part-time in a hotel to support herself while studying. Mountrath Community School are hugely proud of Margaret believing her to have been one of the shining lights in their school and have every confidence that she will be successful in her chosen career.

Ruth Bergin

Ruth Bergin is a Portlaoise District Award Winner. Ruth is a 6th year pupil of Heywood Community School, Ballinakill and was nominated by her teacher Peter Malone. Ruth is school Prefect and demonstrates excellent leadership skills in school on a daily basis, she has organised many fundraising events such as the recent teacher student soccer matches, which saw monies raised going to the local St Vincent De Paul in Abbelyleix, C.R.Y (Cardiac Arrest of the Young) as well as Pieta House. Ruth was also instrumental with the integration of refugee students into Heywood Community School in September. As a native of Abbeyleix Ruth organised and gave tours of the village, she helped to teach the families to speak English all with a view to helping the families integrate better into their new community. Ruth has also being a great help to a fellow student who is dealing with anxiety. Ruth supports this student in this difficult time by providing her with notes from class, assists her with her homework and keeps her in touch with her fellow students as she is unable to attend school at this moment.

Ruth was also leader of the winning team “Sensibility” who produced a sensory blanket to help the elderly deal with Alzheimer’s and for children with Autism.

Ruth shows great determination, focus and passion in whatever project she applies herself to. She is a valuable asset to her local community and school.

Scoil Chriost Rí library committee

Scoil Chríost Rí library committee are Porlaoise District Award Winners. Nominated by Victoria Ryan of Scoil Chríost Rí, Borris Rd., Portlaoise, Co. Laois.

 Scoil Chríost Rí Library Committee were nominated to acknowledge and celebrate the commitment, dedication and service they provide to their school. Each student on the committee give up their free time in the management of the school library as well as welcoming and assisting students who wish to take books out on loan. A number of the students on the committee undertook training to be competent in the school’s new library management system, and gave up their time both during and after school to implement and oversee the new system. Committee members also organise library events so all students in the school can experience the creative and welcoming environment that they generate in the library. So far this school year they have organised story writing competitions, poster competitions and poetry readings. They also serve their school by helping younger students, providing them with study skills and assistance while researching. Overall the committee contributes to the school community in numerous ways all undertaken with great diligence and all on a voluntary basis.

Jonathan and Reuban Murray

Jonathon and Reuban Murray were nominated by their teacher Denis Boland, Mountrath Community School. They are identical twins who have played an active role in both their school and local community for a number of years.

Since attending Mountrath Community School Jonathan and Reuban have played an influential role in Comhairle na nOg, Jonathan is the public relations officer while Reuban is vice chair of the Comhairle. They have designed and created the “Life in your pocket” App, which teaches young people all the things they need to know about life outside of school. They have created, designed, edited and uploaded videos for the app such as interview techniques, videos to promote well-being and life skills. They also had the opportunity to present their app at the National Showcase last December.

The boys have worked very hard to support their local youth café in Mountrath and gathered a petition to keep it open, their drive to keep the youth café open was highlighted in the RTE documentary “By Passed”. Their petition has since being passed onto Laois County Council.

Jonathon and Reuban have also being part of the school student council for a number of years and have being part of a number of initiatives that have had a positive impact on the school such as the bio diversity strip.

They were also part of a team that represented Mountrath Community school school at the 1st Leadership Conference in the Laois Offaly area and finished second on the day.

The boys are also part of the school film club who organised the first “Fright Night” which was a fund raiser for the school film club.

They are exceptional young men who have worked tirelessly to promote services for young people in the Mountrath area.

Laicey Gorman

Laicey Gorman is a former student of Portlaoise College and was nominated by her former teacher Noel Daly. Laicey is currently an active volunteer with the Portlaoise Family Resource Centre and has being involved with the Resource centre for the last ten years. Laicey also attends a Peer education group in Treoi Nua where the group work to address different issues effecting young people in their community. As part of this project Laicey helped to create and starred in a short film for the Irish Cancer Society.

 Laicey has also participated in a number of cultural youth exchange programmes with groups from Northern Ireland and Scotland. Laicey assisted with the planning and coordination of the various exchange projects and helped to facilitate these events.

Last Summer Laicey completed the “Picking up the Pieces” training.

While in Portlaoise College Laicey was a Meitheal leader and played an active role in mentoring 1st Year students and supporting them in their transition from primary to secondary school.

Laicey also volunteers on a weekly basis as a Youth Leader in the Knockmay Youth Group.

Laicey is an outstanding young person and a great role model for both the young people in her community and for her own family. Laicey plans to go third level education to study Applied Social Care Youthwork, she will be the first of her family to do so and should be applauded for doing so.

Laicey is a strong committed and driven young woman who deserves to be recognized and praised for her many achievements.

Lauren Lawlor

Lauren is a student of Mountmellick Community School and was nominated by her teacher Helen Shortall. In Lauren’s first two years in Secondary School her teachers described her as being a very angry, defiant young person, who engaged in anti-social behaviour and was on a self-destructive path. Lauren’s home life at times was quite turbulent and challenging. She lived with her mother, whose health was increasingly deteriorating and who was hospitalised regularly. In third year Lauren tragically lost her mother to suicide. This had a devastating impact on Lauren and her extended family. Lauren was lucky enough to have a very supportive Grandmother, Aunt and Uncle and a school community who rallied around her. This tragedy broke Lauren down to a fragile young girl but with strength, bravery, determination and a lot of support she built herself back up. Under these circumstances it would been understandable if Laurens attitude and behaviour had deteriorated even more but she chose not to let it defy her. Lauren engaged in Transition Year despite her friends and colleagues proceeding to 5th Year. This acceptance and willingness to change was the beginning of her transformation. Lauren entered into it whole heartedly and embraced all new challenges that were offered, all while going through a grieving process. Lauren is now in 6th Year and is preparing for her leaving cert. Lauren is planning a career in Social Studies which will be a very suitable career for her as she has an incredible caring and empathetic nature. Laurens

attitude has changed dramatically, she is a very different young person. Lauren is now a positive influence on her peers and is seen as a role model. She has overcome very difficult personal tragedies and emerged from these as a person of strength, ambition and vision. Staff of Mountmellick Community School are incredibly proud of Lauren and all she has achieved. Lauren has defied the odds, overcome difficult and devastating circumstances and deserves recognition for same.

Jack O'Neill

Jack O’Neill is a Portlaoise District Award winner. Nominated by Brigid Gilligan and Margaret Nolan of Colaíste Íosagáin, Portarlington.

Jack is a member of the Green School Committee at Coláiste Íosagáin for the last four years. He is an outstanding enthusiastic, hardworking member of this committee. Jack became a climate change ambassador during the school year of 2017-2018 and is a mentor for all of Ireland in this role. While in this role he has spoken at various conferences throughout Ireland. Jack has taken part in clean ups in Portarlington and surrounding areas in his own time. Jack’s contribution to the Green Schools committee in his school has been outstanding. He has given a presentation to over 1,000 students and staff on the theme of ‘Biodiversity’. This presentation was very informative and showed Jack to be very well informed on this topic. Jack regularly gives up his time during his lunch break and after school. He has helped his fellow students build a Bug Hotel, a Hedgehog hut and in the planting of flowers and vegetables at his school. His hard work and dedication has had a huge impact in raising awareness of our Environment and Biodiversity at Colásite Íosagáin and beyond.

Orla Heffernan and Kate Herke

Orla Heffernan and Kate Herke are the Divisional Group Award winner. Nominated by Noleen Lynam of St. Fergal’s College, Rathdowney.

In May 2018 Orla and Kate Herke travelled to Lourdes with the Ossary Lourdes Pilgirm Group. They both fundraised to pay for their fares prior to this trip. The purpose of the trip was to act as both supporters and helpers to ill and elderly people who were ordinarily receiving treatment in hospital. Each girl took responsibility to escort the pilgrim to all religious events, social gatherings and other events organised by the pilgrimage team. Both girls were praised highly by the organising committee for their dedication, selflessness and concern shown for the elderly people on the trip. Orla ad Kate have been great representatives for St. Fergal’s College and young people in our society. They are the Laois/Offaly Division Group Award winner due to their own initiative to come together and work as a team and provide invaluable contribution to the elderly community living in their area. This award is a recognition of the humanity and kindness shown by both girls.

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