President of Ireland Michael D Higgins has awarded a young Carrick-on-Suir man a prestigious Gaise gold medal partly for the contribution he has made to his community in the areas of water safety and First Aid.
University of Limerick business student Michael Mitchell from Ballyknock, Carrick-on-Suir was presented with the top President’s Award for young people at a ceremony in Dublin Castle on September 27.
Michael has already achieved Silver and Bronze Gaisce medals and to attain the Gold medal he completed a series of challenges in the areas of community involvement, personal skill and physical recreation, completed an adventure journey and did a residential project.
For the community involvement part of the Gaisce challenge, Michael instructed water safety classes at the Sean Kelly Swimming and Sports Centre every Saturday from 9am to 12noon.
Michael, who is son of Myles and Brigid Mitchell, said he owes much of his interest in water safety and swimming to local instructor Peter McCarthy, who over the past fifty years has given so generously of his time to the young people of Carrick-on-Suir and the surrounding hinterland.
Under Peter’s guidance, Michael completed the various certificates in swimming and water safety and qualified as a swimming pool and beach lifeguard.
For the past four years, he has worked as a pool lifeguard in the Sean Kelly Centre and for the past three summers he has worked with Waterford County Council as a beach lifeguard in Ardmore and Clonea Strand. For the residential project, Michael assisted at the annual Water Safety Week on Clare Island which was run in association with County Mayo Water Safety Association.
The connection with County Mayo came about through his dad, Myles, who is a native of Louisburgh and currently Deputy Principal at the Christian Brothers Secondary School in Carrick-on-Suir.
Michael’s personal skill achievement was First Aid and he completed the Cardiac First Responder Course and the FETAC Level 5 Occupational First Aid Course at Waterford VEC.
To compliment this, he instructed First Aid classes in Carrick-on-Suir and is involved in continuous First Aid training of young boys and girls at the Sean Kelly Swimming and Sports Centre.
The physical recreation section of the Gaisce challenge was easy for Michael as he has a keen interest in physical fitness and is a member of the gyms at the sports centre and at the University of Limerick.
He has also completed long distance charity swims and his adventure journey for the Gaisce award was a long distance cycle from Bunratty Castle in Co. Clare to Achill Island in Co. Mayo.