Wholeschool Portal | Home 22 March 2018
200 Hours Millennium Volunteers Awards of Excellence

Over the past year Ballymena Academy's Sixth Form students have been volunteering in school, the local community and right across the world. Twenty-two students gained their 200 hours gold certificates this year. The presentation of certificates took place at Titanic, Belfast on Wednesday 28th February, though unfortunately due to the poor weather only two former Ballymena Academy students, Edison Fairfield and Rachel Graham, made it to the ceremony.


Nuala McAllister, Lord Mayor of Belfast congratulated the recipients and Sam Davidson, Group Human Resources Director of the Henderson Group inspired the young people to keep volunteering. 200 hour award recipients Ciara Campbell and Ben Mooney also addressed the celebration. The evening was concluded by Denise Hayward, the new CEO of Volunteer Now.


Students (and former pupils) who gained their awards are Abigail McKendry, Bethany Agnew, Caitlin McCutcheon, Edison Fairfield, Ellen King, Emily Alexander, Esther Thompson, Grace McCready, Harriet Diver, Laura Craig, Lauren Stevenson, Melissa Young, Molly Reid, Nataliya Sergeyenkova, Neave Calwell, Rachel Graham, Rachelle Mitchell, Ruth Hoey, Sophie McAllister, Stephanie Penney, Susanna Crabbe and Suzanne Reid.


The students were asked to share their experiences of volunteering; the summaries submitted appear below.



Laura Craig

I have volunteered with several organisations including Girls’ Brigade, Scripture Union, Asha and Second Broughshane Presbyterian Church. Through these I have volunteered by working with children in clubs or camps. I have also been involved within school through the Cancer Research and Charity Committees.

I volunteer because I enjoy working with others and organising activities for children. Volunteering has also given me opportunities to try new things and make a difference. I would recommend volunteering as it enables you to gain new skills, meet so many new people and build friendships while helping others. 


Molly Reid

I have volunteered with Raise the Roof Kids Choir, Church Events and as a Peer Mentor and Prefect in Ballymena Academy.

I primarily volunteer with Raise the Roof kids choir which raised money to build and currently to sustain a primary school in Uganda. Through my experience I have had the opportunity to engage with children in my community and work alongside many amazing people as well as travel to Uganda myself and see the school as well as the people it changed the lives of first hand. I have learned so much from my time volunteering. The experiences I have gained and the memories I have are invaluable, I would recommend it to anyone. I got much more out of my experience than I ever imagined and would urge anyone thinking about volunteering to take up the amazing opportunity.


Grace McCready

Through volunteering at my local church with organisations and activities such as Squirrels, Holiday Bible Club and Crèche I have worked with young people, helping to develop their imagination and creativity. This has given me great joy and I would recommend getting involved in the local community, helping in any way you can, as it is so rewarding. I also volunteer my time in school as a Prefect and as a Year 8 Peer Mentor. It's truly rewarding to contribute to the running of the school and work with great people to play our part in the school. I volunteer to help build confidence in young people and I would highly recommend it to anyone!



Suzanne Reid

I have volunteered with: ASHA India, Ballymena Academy Cancer Research Committee and Glarryford Young Farmers' Committee. Volunteering has been extremely worthwhile. I volunteered to increase my skills, become more culturally aware and help those less fortunate. Working with and helping others has been extremely rewarding and I couldn’t recommend it enough.


Lauren Stevenson

I have spent many years volunteering with the Boys Brigade within my home church. While as leaders we face many challenges with a large Anchor Boy section, I find it to be an uplifting and encouraging experience as we often see fruits from our labour. I also serve on the Senior Christian Union Committee within school and while a lot of organisation and commitment must go into it, I love working alongside my friends and getting to know the younger pupils as well. Over the past summers I’ve also spent many weeks volunteering with Spark and New Horizon. I find it so humbling helping those in the local area who are less fortunate and also spending time with children and playing games with them.

I initially started volunteering for my Duke of Edinburgh award but now that I already have it I still continue to volunteer, as I continue to enjoy the personal reward I gain from volunteering. However, the greatest reward is knowing that you have made someone else happy by taking a little time out of your day to make theirs a whole lot better.

Emily Alexander

I volunteer with St John Ambulance, the Cancer Research Committee and as a Prefect and a Year 8 Peer Mentor. I do it to help others and engage with people in the community. It enables me to develop connections with those from all area of the community and learn new skills. I would recommend volunteering to others as it provides experience and personal development.



Ellen King


I volunteer with Glarryford YFC and in school as a Peer Mentor and Prefect. I volunteer as it offers me the chance to gain new and important skills which would be beneficial to me in the future. It also provides me with a chance to give something back to the community and to make a difference especially to young people. Volunteering has also helped me to gain an identity and self confidence in these environments and has allowed me to enjoy my experiences more thoroughly. I would recommend volunteering as it allows you to develop different career prospects, allows you to explore, try new things, meet new people and have fun.




Caitlin McCutcheon

The majority of my volunteering was through duties with St John Ambulance and assisting in the teaching of my local Sunday school. Both were rewarding experiences as I could help others, both physically and spiritually, improving my confidence and communication abilities.


Harriet Diver

I volunteer with The Open Door Ballymoney because I like making a positive difference in my local community and meeting new people. I would recommend volunteering as it’s very worthwhile and is a good way to spend your time productively. You also learn new things and gain valuable skills that you might not gain otherwise.



Melissa Young

I have volunteered with Girls' Brigade, Surestart, Brookside Presbyterian Church and in Ballymena Academy. I chose to volunteer in these areas as I love working with children and young people. Knowing I could impact other people's lives in a positive way through communicating and spending time getting to know them really appealed to me.

I would encourage others to volunteer as there are so many different organisations available - you will definitely find something suited to your strengths and interests. I encourage people to volunteer as I think it is helpful when applying to university as it demonstrates you have a keen interest and are actively developing the necessary skills and increasing your knowledge in that specific area.



Photo: Susanna, Sophie, Neave


Susanna Crabbe


I have volunteered in the children’s meetings in my church since I was 14, for 2 hours every week. I’m a member of the Junior CU Committee and attend Junior CU for an hour every week. I was also on a mission trip in July where I spent 2 weeks in Liberia, West Africa with a group from my church and in October/November I spent 10 days in India as part of the Ballymena Academy Asha team.

I first participated in volunteering as part of my Bronze Duke Of Edinburgh award and when I witnessed the difference time spent with others made, it gave me the desire to do more. I would highly recommend to anyone getting involved in volunteering projects; it gives you such an amazing feeling when you know you contributed to someone’s smile.




Rachelle Mitchell

I have volunteered through Ballymena Academy with Asha. I have also been involved in volunteering at Barnardo’s Charity shop. I have participated in leadership through children’s church and helping with the Explorers in GB. I have also volunteered through Junior and Senior CU Small Groups and prayer meetings and over the summer had the opportunity to work in my community through Spark.

I volunteered to have the opportunity to help out in my community and wider world as well as giving back to those less fortunate than myself. I would recommend volunteering as it gives you the opportunity to meet and get to know new people as well as strengthening and developing skills.


Ruth Hoey

I have volunteered in a number of my Church organisations teaching memory verses in Sunday School, leading a group in Holiday Bible Club, helping out in Children’s church and as a Sub-officer volunteering in Girls Brigade.

I was part of a team that went out to help others in South East Asia last year. In school I lead a senior CU small group and I am a part of the Digital leaders team

I volunteer because I love working with children; I have gained lots of new skills such as teaching and communicative skills which are transferable to a working environment. Volunteering also allows me to meet new people and make friends with people from a wider range of backgrounds.

I would really recommend volunteering in your community as it allows you to experience new things and pushes you out of your comfort zone.




Esther Thompson

Activities I volunteered with were United Beach Missions, Girls' Brigade, Boys' Brigade, Exodus, Ballymena Academy Charity Committee and Sunday School.

I really enjoy working with people and seeing that I'm helping them in some way. I like caring for others and getting to know people personally. Volunteering is encouraging and rewarding when you see those you help really benefit and it shows that your efforts have been worth it. So I would highly recommend everyone to get involved in some sort of volunteering as you will learn a lot from it.


Stephanie Penney

I have volunteered with ASHA India, Spark Ballymena and Ballymena Academy Junior CU.

I find it extremely satisfying giving up my time to help others who show such appreciation for the smallest gestures. I would hugely recommend volunteering as it gives you the opportunity to meet new people, grow friendships and have lasting memories!



Nataliya Sergeyenkova

I have volunteered in Barnardo's charity shop, St John Ambulance and at a Summer Scheme for children with special needs.

I volunteer at Barnardo's for 2 hours every Saturday - it's a great way to learn the skills required as a sales assistant such as customer communication and using the till. With St John Ambulance I have learned extremely valuable first aid skills and going on duties has let me see them used first hand. The summer scheme was definitely my most worthwhile experience - I spent 2 weeks at Green Pastures looking after and playing with children with various learning difficulties and physical disabilities. Despite being challenging, it showed me that I want to work with children in the future and I would definitely volunteer at the scheme again.

Report and photographs thanks to Miss Bassett who coordinates Ballymena Academy's 
volunteering programme.