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Co Limerick and Co Antrim students named All-Ireland Youth Volunteers of the Year



Emily and Lucia at the Spirit of Community Awards
Emily, Jordi, Ciaran and Lucia at the Award Ceremony






















Two youth volunteers whose work includes raising awareness of organ donation and volunteering with the homeless have been announced as the winners of the 2017 Pramerica Spirit of Community Awards, the only all-Ireland youth initiative of its kind which recognises young people for their motivation, service and impact on their local communities.

For the exemplary work they carry out in their local communities, Emily Duffy from Newcastle West in Co. Limerick and Lucia Quinney Mee, from Ballycastle, Co Antrim were selected from amongst hundreds of youth volunteers from across the island of Ireland and recognized at a gala awards’ ceremony, held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Dublin.

Emily and Lucia each received €1,000 for a charity of their choice, a gold medallion and a crystal trophy for their school which were presented by Irish International rugby player Jordi Murphy.  In May, they will both 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.

Emily, from Newcastle West, Co.  Limerick, a sixth year student at Desmond College, volunteers with the Mendicity charity and developed the Duffily bag designed to protect homeless people that is now manufactured by service users of the charity. Emily was initially moved by the high levels of homelessness in her community which she learnt about through her school, and was motivated by the struggles faced by homeless people daily. She began volunteering with Mendicity, a charity that employs homeless men and helps enable them to start a new life. Working closely with the service users, Emily ensured that her invention met their needs and requirements and also developed a production process with them to ensure efficient production. Emily spent countless hours on the final design and production of the Duffily Bag that now protects homeless people from the harsh conditions they experience living on the streets.

From Ballycastle in Co. Antrim, Lucia, a sixth year student at Cross and Passion College, had her first liver transplant at the age of eight. Following two additional transplants, Lucia is extremely passionate about the incredible gift of organ donation and in 2015 set up the campaign ‘Live Loudly Donate Proudly’. Lucia believes that education is key and strives to get organ donation onto the national school curriculum to encourage young people to have educated conversations with family and friends regarding their decision about organ donation. A keen swimmer, Lucia has also competed in the British and World Transplant Games which highlights that the gift of life allows people not only to live, but to thrive.  Having just been selected for the 2017 World Transplant Games in Malaga, she wants to make organ donation the norm rather than the exception with ordinary conversations leading to extraordinary gifts.

Also highly commended in the junior category were Daniel Ritchie from Carrickfergus and Aishling Dunphy from Co Tipperary.

“I feel honoured to have met such dedicated and committed young people who give their free time to helping others in their communities,” commentated Jordi Murphy. “Emily and Lucia are extraordinary youth ambassadors and it has been a pleasure to recognise and celebrate their accomplishments.  It is testament to all of the finalist’s characters to be shortlisted for these awards and I hope these young people continue to inspire others like them to give back to their local community and further afield.”

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.

“Emily and Lucia are inspiring individuals and wonderful role models in their local communities”, said Andrea McBride, vice president, Pramerica Systems Ireland. “These awards are designed to showcase young people’s commitment to volunteerism and tonight’s 20 finalists are no exception. It’s humbling to see the commitment and dedication from these young people, and we are honoured to recognise the volunteering they are doing in their local schools, communities and abroad to make the lives better of those less fortunate than themselves.”

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

The 2017 Finalists included:

  •           Emily Duffy, Newcastle West, Co. Limerick
  •           Ashling Dunphy, Carrick-on-Suir, Co. Tipperary
  •           Eric Flaherty, Portumna, Co. Galway
  •           Lisa Gallagher, Belmullet, Co. Mayo
  •           Chelsea Gibson, Cashel, Co. Tipperary
  •           Aoife Gillespie, Stranorlar, Co. Donegal
  •           Chantelle Hutchinson, Belfast, Co. Antrim
  •           Bartek Karpinski, Castleblayney, Co. Monaghan
  •           Hannah Lyons, Eglinton, Co. Derry~Londonderry
  •           Caitlin Kane, Belfast, Co. Antrim
  •           Eoghan Kenny, Mallow, Co. Cork
  •           Cliodhna Malone, Newbridge, Co. Kildare
  •           Eimear Mansfield, Waterford City, Co. Waterford
  •           Rachel McGowan, Co. Derry~Londonderry
  •           Matthew McNeive, Knock, Co. Mayo
  •           Dylan Nesbitt, Convoy, Co. Donegal
  •           Olivia Price, Belfast, Co. Antrim
  •           Lucia Quinney Mee, Ballycastle, Co. Antrim
  •           Daniel Ritchie, Carrickfergus, Co. Antrim
  •           Martha Tuohy, Portumna, Co. Galway

For more information about the 2017 Pramerica Spirit of Community Awards, follow the Pramerica Spirit of Community Facebook page, Instagram and Twitter feed @Pramerica_SOC, or visit


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