On February 11th, 54 amazing young people from all over Ireland flocked to Dublin Castle to receive their Gold Award from The President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins.
The Gold Award recipients included young people who spent time volunteering with charity organisations, working with the poor, the elderly, people with disabilities, and getting involved in youth groups and clubs. Groups from Cope Foundation, Cork and Brú Youth Services in Crumlin, Dublin received their Awards along with five young people from Northern Ireland who completed their Award as part of a Joint Award Initiative between Gaisce and The Duke of Edinburgh Award in the UK.
Eager and full of anticipation, the Awardees arrived one by one to Dublin Castle, flanked by their PAL and family members. Turned out in their smartest and most stylish gear, the Awardees greeted fellow Gold Awardees with smiles and hugs full of excitement. Some recounted their gold award experiences and others were overjoyed at meeting each other for the first time.
Andrew Wheeler from Dublin filled us in on his Gaisce story. He grew up in Australia and had already completed his Bronze Duke of Edinburgh Award six months before moving to Ireland. He completed his Silver Award while in 4th year, progressing to Gold shortly after. Andrew spent 52 weeks volunteering in Oxfam in Dun Laoghaire and with the Aisling Project in Ballymun. Along with this, he took up life saving lessons and learned how to be a bike technician, completed a 350km cycle along the West Cork Coastline; along with a six day trip to Lourdes.
Distinguished guests included Frances Fitzgerald, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dominick Chilcott, British Ambassador, Gordon Topping, Duke of Edinburgh Award and many others.
The President Michael D. Higgins was accompanied by his wife Sabina. He met all Awardees as well as students from St Domincs School, Cabra who volunteered on the day. He said: “These young people really have made a journey, and the awarding of the Gaisce gold medal is a recognition of an achievement, an achievement that involved a personal transformation.”
Check out our Facebook page to see photos of the day.