Monday 10th December 2018, saw more than 36,000 hours of commitment and dedication culminate at a special awards ceremony in Dublin Castle. Patron of Gaisce, President Michael D. Higgins, presented 77 inspirational young people from across Ireland with their prestigious Gaisce Gold Awards. This is the largest number of young people to have been honoured in any one ceremony since Gaisce, The President’s Award was founded in 1985. This year’s Awardees hail from 26 counties and 52 Gaisce Award Partners. Since its inception, it is estimated 150,000 young Irish people have completed a Gaisce Award, including former Rose of Tralee Maria Walsh and Irish rugby international and Connaught player Robbie Henshaw.
As the President enters his second term after an unprecedented vote, he continues to be a keen supporter of the Gaisce programme, encouraging accessibility and the inclusivity of young people from disadvantaged or marginalised communities. The President has presented the awards during each year of his first term, including in the last 12 months, at Oberstown Children Detention Campus and to young people in direct provision. At present Gaisce – the President’s Award is offered to young people across a wide variety of organisations, including schools, colleges, Youthreach, community training centres, Traveller groups, youth services, uniformed organisations, community groups, prison, probation, and Garda Youth Diversion Projects.
This year’s Gold Awardees have successfully completed five challenge areas for 52 weeks or more – volunteering with a charity or community group, developing an existing skill or learning something new, becoming more active through sport or exercise, taking part in a four-day adventure journey while discovering the great outdoors as part of a team, and broadening their horizons on a five day residential stay away from home.
2FM DJ and RTE presenter, Eoghan McDermott, acted as MC on the day where a variety of personal achievements were recognised. Some highlights of Gaisce journeys included Emma Mc Kinley, a Donegal native, who completed a sponsored 720km cycle in aid of the RNLI from Mizen Head to Malin Head. Cathal Seabrook, an Awardee from Dublin, learned how to solve a Rubik’s cube as his and represented Ireland at the ITF Tae Kwon-Do World Championships.
Speaking about the Awardees, John Cunningham, Chairman of Gaisce – The President’s Award said, “I would like to congratulate all of the Gold Award recipients on completing their Gaisce journey. Although the pillars of the Gaisce programme remain the same every year, each Gaisce experience is as unique and expansive as our participants determine. I would like to sincerely thank our Gold Awardees for enriching our Gaisce story”.
He continued, “I hope that in taking part in Gaisce the Awardees have learned something about themselves and that this self-knowledge will encourage them to go forth and take their rightful place as active citizens in the world.”
Yvonne McKenna, Chief Executive of Gaisce – The President’s Award said, “I congratulate this year’s Gold Awardees who have shown determination and commitment to achieving their awards. It is only right they are celebrated in beautiful Dublin Castle. We applaud, too, the commitment and dedication of the President’s Award Leaders (PALs) who mentored the young people through their Gaisce journey and to this special day. A huge thank you to all the organisations and the PALs for supporting young people to fulfil their potential through Gaisce – The President’s Award.”