A teenager from Ballynonty is to be honoured for her volunteer work and could win E1,000 for charity if she takes one of the top awards in an all-Ireland community award scheme.
Shannon Stapleton, a Transition Year student at Scoil Ruain in Killenaule, has been named as one of 20 finalists nationally in the sixth annual Pramerica Spirit of the Community Award for her dedication to her community and especially to her father, who is blind.
Shannon lives with her parents and older brother in Ballynonty Village. She is the youngest of five children and enjoys being spoiled by them all. Life is busy, exciting and full of variety for Shannon who spends much of her time helping her Dad at home. Dad lost his sight as a young, newly married man and Shannon is a huge help and support to him and her Mum, the primary carer at home.
Shannon takes Dad on walks where she describes for him the colours, scenery and animals in the fields. She also chats to him, takes him shopping, on visits to her nanny and to parties sponsored by the Irish Wheelchair Association. While there, Shannon helps with the tea, talks with the guests and takes special care of those who find life a challenge.
However, Shannon’s life isn’t all work. She enjoys going to the cinema with friends, visiting family, arts and crafts and she has recently become a volunteer in building a memorial garden for those who have died as a result of road accidents, house fires or suicide in the local area.
Shannon contributes to her school community through her involvement in the Gaisce Service Awards, running the school shop and fundraising for two students who are going as volunteer helpers to Lourdes with special needs children.
Henry McGarvey, Managing Director of Pramerica Systems Ireland Ltd., presented Shannon with her Certificate of Achievement at a ceremony in Scoil Ruain on Tuesday, March 6.
Next week, on Wednesday March 28, Shannon and the 19 other finalists will be honoured at a gala dinner in Derry. Shannon will be presented with an engraved silver medallion and a cheque for €E500 on this occasion. In addition, two of the finalists will be named All-Ireland Youth Volunteers of the Year at the awards dinner and will receive €E1,000 for a charity of their choice, a gold medallion and an all-expense paid trip to the United States in May to participate in The Prudential Spirit of the Community Awards ceremony.
Pramerica Spirit of the Community Awards showcases the outstanding acts of volunteerism demonstrated by second-level students across Ireland. Each year, 20 finalists are chosen from hundreds of applications nationwide. The programme has been developed by Pramerica Systems Ireland Ltd in partnership with the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD) and the General Teaching Council of Northern Ireland (GTCNI).
“We are delighted to honour the achievements of Shannon,” said Henry McGarvey. “Our programme is unique because we unearth the inspirational efforts of our youth that take place quietly in local communities around Ireland.”
The 20 Pramerica Spirit of the Community finalists were selected from second-level students nominated by their school principals last November. The applicants were judged on their motivation, service, impact, sustainability, commitment and personal challenges.
The All-Ireland Youth Volunteers of the Year will be selected by a committee chaired by Nobel Laureate, John Hume; Henry McGarvey; Mary Davis, CEO, Special Olympics EurAsia; Yvonne McKenna, CEO, Volunteer Ireland; Tim Geraghty, NAPD; and Ivan Arbuthnot, chairperson, GTCNI