Selfless West Cork students honoured at 2014 Pramerica Spirit of Community Awards

Posted on: 7th April, 2014

Category: News

Contributor: West Cork People

Above: Caoimhe O'Leary pictured with Republic of Ireland Football Manager, Martin O’Neill and Andrea McBride, Vice President - Systems, Pramerica Systems Ireland Ltd. Photo by Paul McGuckin.

Chloe Kelleher from Skibbereen

Chloe Kelleher from Skibbereen

Chloe Kelleher, a fifth-year student at Mercy Heights Secondary School, Skibbereen and Macroom girl Caoimhe O’Leary, a sixth-year student at Colaiste Choilm, Ballincollig have been honoured at the 2014 Pramerica Spirit of Community Awards.

Caoimhe O’Leary, 18, volunteered in Calcutta, West Bengal, India and Jamaica in the past two years.

“I wanted with all my heart just to go out and help those who are often overlooked in our society. When I think of children in rural Jamaica or orphans dying in the streets of Calcutta, it seems impossible to believe that we are living on the same planet as those who are so unfortunate.”

In 2011, Caoimhe raised funds with the Hope Foundation for her first trip abroad to volunteer in Calcutta.  While there, she worked with children in orphanages and dedicated long hours to help those in need. In 2013, she travelled to Jamaica with members of a charity called Projects Abroad to teach in a local primary school.

Her teacher at Colaiste Choilm, Ms. Kelleher, described Caoimhe’s commitment to volunteerism, saying, “For many years, Caoimhe has been interested in issues related to social justice and has patiently waited to ‘come of age’ in fourth year so that she could become actively involved in fundraising for deserving charities, and ultimately work abroad with underprivileged children.”

Seventeen year-old Chloe Kelleher produced the ‘Little Fighters’ Cookbook to support Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin.

Chloe was motivated by her cousin, Oran, who spent almost a year in the children’s’ hospital. She wanted to give something back. So she raised money to support the work of the hospital by compiling a cookbook.

She created a Facebook page, generated media interest and enlisted the support of her school. Her book launch included a cooking demonstration by celebrity chef, Catherine Fulvio.

Chloe worked on the publication for nine months during her transition year. Her drive and determination paid off when she presented a cheque for €12,200 to Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children last May. The hospital has reprinted 2,000 copies of the cookbook and hopes to raise an additional €40,000.

Taking on such a big task inspired her entire school and local community. Teacher Karen Sheane, says, “Chloe’s dogged determination was an inspiration to us all. She experienced many problems along the way but took it all in stride. Her quiet determination is truly amazing.”

The finalists received €500, an engraved silver medallion and were praised by Republic of Ireland Football Manager, Martin O’Neill.

“We need to celebrate our young people today to inspire them into being leaders of tomorrow,” says O’Neill. “We salute Caoimhe and Chloe and the other finalists in this programme for helping those in need.”

Senior managing director and CIO of Pramerica Systems Ireland Ltd, Caroline Faulkner described the evening as one of joyous momentum. “The stars tonight were our 20 finalists. They have awed and amazed us, the organisers, their families and teachers and indeed each other,” said Faulkner. “Congratulations to Caoimhe and Chloe who have shown tremendous maturity in being outstanding volunteers.”

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