Kerry Winners At National Garda Youth Awards

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Erin O’Sullivan with her award presented by Assistant Commissioner, Anne Marie McMahon

AN Garda Síochána held its annual National Garda Youth Awards on Saturday to recognise exceptional young people aged 13-21 who have positively contributed to their community.

This year’s event took place at the Midlands Park Hotel, Portlaoise and acknowledged the remarkable contributions made in a number of Garda Divisions which included Offaly, Dublin, Kerry, Cork, Sligo/Leitrim, Mayo/Roscommon, Longford and Donegal.

The Garda National Youth Awards were promoted and expanded by the then Assistant Commissioner, Anne Marie McMahon and who now as Deputy Commissioner continues to recognise the meaningful work of so many young people in communities all across Ireland.

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A Special Achievement Award was presented to Erin O’Sullivan from Tralee who has a rare disorder Ataxia Telangiectasia, a condition that combines the symptoms of muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis and immune system disorder..

The citation for Erin reads as follows…”Sixteen year-old Erin O’Sullivan is a third year student in Coláiste Gleann Lí in Tralee and approaches her education with such vigour that you would never imagine that she lives with an extremely rare, childhood neurological disorder which is incurable.

In school she is known to take on every single task with the same vigour and enthusiasm, if not more, than her peers. As a Little Blue Hero, Honorary Garda O’Sullivan is a wonderful advocate for empowering young people.

Erin lets nothing get in the way of ability to embrace life’s opportunities – she has now completed her Junior Certificate exams and looks ahead to even bigger educational achievements.”

Amber Dunne and Eoin Buckley with their award presented by Assistant Commissioner, Anne Marie McMahon

Members of Banna Rescue — Amber Dunne and Eoin Buckley — received a Community Safety Award.

The citation for Amber and Eoin reads…”Amber Dunne and Eoin Buckley have more than proven themselves to be valued members of the voluntary inshore and land rescue unit, Banna Rescue which responds to emergencies on one of the busiest beaches in Ireland on a 24/7/365 basis.

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At just 16 years old, Amber is one of the youngest volunteers to join the unit since it was established some 40 years ago. Her affinity for working with children has had a calming and reassuring effect on the young people that are involved in a traumatic rescue.

Her terrific work has led Banna Rescue to reduce the minimum service age of boat crew on their vessels from 18 to 17.

Eoin is unique in that despite being much younger than many of the new crew members that join Banna Rescue, he is the assisting with their initial training. That’s a real testament to his skill and ability as is his work in advising Ukraine refugees about water safety.

Both Amber and Eoin have dedicated countless hours to making Kerry waters safer, and have volunteered on some of the most difficult recovery operations to bring home those who have been lost by their loved ones.

Whether responding to emergency calls or on beach patrol during peak hours, Amber and Eoin are always among the first to spring into action at a moment’s notice to help ensure the safety of others.”

The Upcyclers from Castleisland Community College, Castleisland with their award presented by Assistant Commissioner, Anne Marie McMahon

The other Kerry winner was The Upcyclers from Castleisland Community College who received a Group Award.

The citation reads…”The outbreak of war in Ukraine in February 2022 displaced millions of people and continues to threaten the lives of people in the region, leaving families forced to flee for safety. We can be proud that many of these people felt that Ireland would be a comfortable shelter for them.

Communities all around Ireland have been coming together in the hope of helping the Ukrainian refugees feel welcome and supported during what must be a traumatic and deeply unsettling time.

A number of students from Castleisland Community College began to notice on their way to and from school that some mothers and children were having to walk the long distance from their refugee accommodation into Tralee town. From a place of great compassion, these students put their heads together to find a helpful solution, and sought the donations of second-hand bicycles from their school and local business community.

Up to 60 bikes were donated and these students serviced and repaired each one outside of school hours. They then went to great lengths to deliver the bicycles to those in the local refugee accommodation so that they could travel in and out of the town, go to their place of work or get out for recreation.

The same students have also contributed to the local community in other ways too like the Children’s Fairy Trail created along the river made from their scraps left over from their woodwork projects.

They’re an example to every young person – considerate, innovative and not to mention, selfless.”

Well done to all the winners who did their county proud!

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