Eight sixth form students from Ballymena Academy
were presented with their Gold 200 hours Millennium Volunteers Awards at a
ceremony in the City Hall on Thursday 2nd March.
Abby Morgan, Adam Pidgeon, Charlotte Larkin,
Clare Surgenor, Katie Johnston, Katie McKay,
Sophie Laverick and Victoria McLean had all
completed 200 hours of volunteering in their local community over the past two
Therese Crossan, 2015 #iwill ambassador, acted
as compère for the evening and introduced Alderman Brian Kingston, Lord Mayor
of Belfast who welcomed award recipients and their families from all over
Martins Zilinskis from Latvia spoke of his
involvement with the European Voluntary Service and encouraged the young people
to take the opportunity to get involved with this organisation.
Four students from Rainey Endowed School,
Magherafelt then gave an account of volunteering overseas with ASHA in New
Delhi. The girls spoke with passion about the people they had met, experiences
they had shared and the pleasure they had in undertaking this trip.
Keynote speaker for the evening was Judith
Cochrane, whose organisation supports people into work by connecting people and
their skills with job opportunities. She spoke of the importance of developing
resilience and how volunteering helps individuals to do this. Judith encouraged
the young people to look back, look around and look forward: look back to what
you have achieved, look around at the people you have met and experiences you
have gained and look forward to the possibilities for the future. She said
that, on Election Day, it was appropriate to say that as people volunteer they
choose to vote for their communities every day by giving their time to help
Kelsey Gillespie of Hunterhouse College, one of
the 200 hours award recipients shared ever experienced of volunteering with
Girls' Brigade and Ulster Rugby. Her talk focused on how it may be bad news
that time flies, but the good news is that you are the pilot.
Singer and musician Claire Louise Turner
entertained the audience prior to the presentation of certificates.
The awards were presented by Judith Cochrane and
Wendy Osbourne of Volunteer Now concluded by thanking everyone for their support.
Ballymena Academy is delighted that its pupils
have contributed so much to both the school community and organisations both
locally and overseas. Abby, Adam, Charlotte, Clare, Katie, Katie, Sophie and
Victoria have volunteered at a vast range of activities including summer
schemes and camps, youth clubs, Sunday School, Connor Youth Forum, Streetreach,
Women's Aid, Prospect Nursing Home, Girls' Brigade, Army Cadet Force, Hope for
Youth, The Dojo, Randalstown FPC, Holiday Bible Club, Spark, AIM and Crosskennan
Lane Animal Sanctuary. The following school activities have also benefitted
from their involvement - YES, Open Nights, Cancer Research Committee, Senior CU
and weekly prefect duty.