A student from Loreto College Coleraine has been named as one of the two Pramerica Spirit of Community All Ireland Young Volunteers of the Year.
As one of twenty finalists in the prestigious 2016 Pramerica Spirit of Community Awards Programme, Carla McErlean, a Year 14 student at Loreto College, received a €500 award and a Silver Medallion in recognition of her outstanding community service, carried out within the last three years.
She was presented with these awards at a Gala Dinner at the Lough Eske Castle Hotel and Spa on Thursday night. In addition to this, Carla was among twenty young people shortlisted as one of two All-Ireland Youth Volunteers of the Year.
At the Gala dinner, Carla was named as one of the two All Ireland Youth Volunteers of 2016, receiving €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.
Carla is well-known in Loreto College for her voluntary and charity work. Inspired by her best friend Anna McAllister, Carla, along with a group of friends, has been tireless in her work to raise funds for the Northern Ireland Cancer Fund for Children.
Since the loss of her best friend in September 2014 to a brain tumour, Carla has been motivated to do something out of the ordinary to make her friend proud by raising funds for cancer charities.
In November 2014, Carla organised ‘The Gooses,’ a skydive event with her closest friends in memory of her friend Anna, raising over £11,000 for Cancer Fund for Children, and was awarded Credit Union Volunteer of the Year Award 2014 for her volunteering efforts. In May 2015, Carla coordinated ‘The Goosebury Festival,’ a special event held at Anna’s house which raised over £20,000 for Cancer Fund for Children and the Cancer Unit in Belfast.
She also coordinated fundraising nights out for Macmillan Cancer Support which raised a total of £3,500, and also joined the youth team of the Derry Diocese and accompanied them on a five day pilgrimage to Lourdes in July 2015.
“At sixteen, she showed remarkable courage and maturity when she was facing the death of her best friend,” said Mr Michael James, Principal of Loreto College. “She is a wonderful young person and a credit to herself, her family, her school, her community and to her friend Anna.”
Mr James added that Carla acts as a true ambassador of the principle of volunteering and community service, and stands as an outstanding role model to her fellow students. Mrs Siobhan McCarry, Head of Religious Education at Loreto, who nominated Carla for the award, praised Carla’s cheerful and unassuming attitude to
her amazingly generous service in support of others. Presenting Carla with her Award Certificate at a special Assembly, Mr James wished her well for the final round of the Award scheme and urged Loreto’s students to support and be inspired by Carla’s outstanding service on behalf of others.