A “remarkable and inspiring” Carrickfergus College pupil is in the running for a prestigious all-Ireland award for youth volunteers.
Jamie Davies, who is a volunteer at Carrickfergus Junior Gateway Disability Group, is a finalist in the Pramerica Spirit of Community Awards.
The award are held in partnership with the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD) and the General Teaching Council for Northern Ireland (GTCNI).
The 14-year-old, who dedicates six hours per week to the role, has been interested from a young age in helping young people with disabilities become more active in a range of activities such as sport, arts and crafts.
Jamie said: “I take a great deal of pleasure from seeing young people having fun and having a smile on their faces.”
To help finance the group, he contacted Carrickfergus Borough Council which helped him organise a charity-sponsored walk, which raised £1,400.
Jamie says that it is the ability of these young people that he sees, not their disability.
His achievement and dedication as one of the youngest leaders with the group, which is based at Sunnylands Youth Centre on Saturday morning, have drawn praise from Carrickfergus College.
“His enthusiasm and modest approach to the work he is doing has been an inspiration to me as his teacher,” says Julie Bowers.
Five of the 20 youth volunteers of the year for 2014 come from secondary-level schools across County Antrim.
Caroline Faulkner, senior managing director of Pramerica Systems Ireland Ltd, commented: “These students are youth leaders of today and will certainly be leaders of tomorrow. Their volunteerism is quite remarkable and their motivation is quite simple – to give back, to make a difference.
“I congratulate all of them for being five of the top 20 youth volunteers in Ireland.”
The students have each won an engraved silver medallion and €500. They will also be invited to a gala awards ceremony on Wednesday, March 26 in Solis Lough Eske Castle, County Donegal, where the two overall 2014 Youth Volunteers of the Year will be named.
The two overall winners will each receive €1,000 for a charity of their choice, a gold medallion, a crystal trophy for their school and an all-expense paid trip to the United States in May to participate in the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards ceremony.
The selection committee that will choose the Youth Volunteers of the Year will include John Hume as chair; Andrea McBride, Pramerica; Ivan Arbuthnot, GTCNI; Clive Byrne, NAPD; Wendy Osbourne, CEO Volunteer Now and Yvonne McKenna, CEO Volunteer Ireland.
The awards are modelled on The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, which were created by Pramerica’s parent, Prudential Financial Inc. Since 1995, nearly 375,000 Americans have participated.