Tipperary girl 18-year-old Jackie Kelly, has been honoured at the 2011 People of the Year Awards, organised by Rehab and sponsored by QUINN-healthcare, which were broadcast live on RTÉ One television last Saturday.
Jackie, from Templetuohy, received the Young Person of the Year award for her maturity, strength and motivation in the face of adversity, making her a positive role model for everyone in the community. She was presented with the award at the star-studded event by X Factor sensation, Mary Byrne.
Jackie’s mother Mary was diagnosed with cancer in June 2009. Then just 16 years old, Jackie was determined to continue supporting her mum, and dad, at home during this very difficult time, while also doing what she could to pursue her schooling. Indeed, on one morning in December 2009, Jackie was on hand to perform vital CPR on her mother after she had collapsed in the house and a pulse couldn’t be found.
During her acceptance speech, Jackie thanked all the doctors and staff at South Tipperary General Hospital in Clonmel where her mother was treated.
In total Jackie missed around 50 per cent of the school year, but through sheer drive and determination, collecting notes from her teachers, asking for extra homework, and communicating with the school by post, email and text message, she passed her Leaving Certificate obtaining 120 points more than was required to secure a place on her chosen college course.
Mary is now doing well and Jackie has just completed her first year in Business Studies and French at Limerick Institute of Technology in Thurles.
The Awards, now in their 37th year, were presented by Gráinne Seoige with An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny TD, the Guest of Honour in attendance. Ireland’s answer to an honours system, the Awards provide a unique opportunity for the Irish public to honour outstanding achievements and contributions made by individuals and organisations to life in our country today. The winners are chosen by members of the public through a nominations process and finalised by a panel of adjudicators, comprising of leading members of the media, voluntary sector and business community.