Media personality and clinical psychologist David Coleman paid tribute to local student and volunteer Emma Lacey at a gala awards ceremony in Kilkenny recently. Emma, a sixth year student at Loreto Secondary School was recognised for her outstanding volunteer work at the seventh annual Pramerica Spirit of Community Awards, along with 19 other finalists. They all received €500 and an engraved silver medallion.
“I would like to congratulate Emma on her achievements,” said Mr Coleman, a clinical psychologist, broadcaster and author. “I have no doubt she will inspire others to volunteer and leave a legacy of altruism.” he said. Pramerica Systems Ireland Ltd. sponsors the Pramerica Spirit of Community programme in partnership with the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD) and the General Teaching Council for Northern Ireland (GTCNI). The programme, introduced seven years ago, encourages youth volunteerism throughout Ireland, and identifies and rewards young role models.
Caroline Faulkner, senior managing director and chief information officer at Pramerica, said: “Students such as Emma are the future of Ireland. Their leadership skills know no bounds, but more than that, they have a deep sense of community which is what our country needs. It is my honour to congratulate Emma and all the finalists on their achievements.”
Emma volunteered with the local Special Olympics club and spent her summers playing music to raise funds for Trocaire, The Carers Association, Hospice, Meals on Wheels, swimming club, G.A.A clubs and community groups.
Emma also raised €1,700 to cover the cost of a trip to Nairobi where she spent two weeks at Shalom Academy School, Laini Saba Primary School and St. Paul’s Care Home, an orphanage for abandoned children. Emma also taught English, arts, crafts, music, sports, dancing, and helped paint the classrooms during her trip.
The poverty she witnessed inspired Emma to help make a difference, despite experiencing great challenges such as a lack of running water, an erratic electricity supply and arid climates.
“Emma is a bubbly, empathetic young girl who approaches every day with enthusiasm and always put the needs of others first. She embodies the very spirit of volunteerism,” says Michelle McCartan, Outreach to Africa Deputy Leader.
Emma continues to fundraise for the two schools in Kenya, and also plans to join the Alive Volunteer scheme in NUI, Galway when she goes to college.
In addition to John Hume, the selection committee included Andrea McBride, Pramerica; Ivan Arbuthnot, GTCNI; Kay O’Brien, NAPD; Wendy Osbourne, Volunteer Now; and Yvonne McKenna, Volunteer Ireland.
“We are thrilled to be involved with the seventh annual Pramerica Spirit of Community Awards Programme”, said Kay O’Brien, president of the NAPD. “These young people show determination, generosity and leadership beyond their years. It’s wonderful to have a national awards programme that recognises their efforts.”