Participant Stories: Tommy Monahan

“I gained so much more from it than I put in, and would recommend the award to anyone”

Tommy completed his award at the age of 21, while studying in Trinity. He has been a member of the 1st Bagenalstown BP Scout Troop since the age of 16. He acknowledges that his PAL, Ann O’Halloran, put in mountains of effort and says that without her – and the Scout Troop – he probably wouldn’t have completed different sections of the award.

For his personal skill, Tommy took up something he had never done before: playing bass guitar. Luckily, his friend, Eoin, offered to give him lessons for free. Practicing wasn’t a chore, and after a while he was part of a small band, and found himself in front of a crowd at a local fundraising concert, (playing on the same stage that Thin Lizzy had performed on!) only a year after taking up the instrument! Almost 24 hours after a Carlow Relay for Life concert, himself & Eoin were in a plane to Vancouver to stay with a relative. They learned that a busking permit didn’t require a work visa – so less than 2 years after having no musical skills, he was playing on streets thousands of miles across the world.

As Tommy is a member of the Scouts, his community involvement was being a  Scout Leader. His first task was to organise a day event, planned entirely by himself and another leader. Organising finances, travelling, equipment, safety, and everything else made him appreciate the effort that goes in to events that were organised for him in previous years. It was a frustrating job at times, but the improvement in behaviour and scouting skills was a very rewarding experience. Despite the initial worries, he found it more enjoyable than ever.

Being in college, Tommy had to work around his studying schedule. He took up strength training as he had an interest in it before starting his Gold Award. He began the training with the aim of later becoming involved in Olympic Weightlifting. He began lifting in his local gym, and his training managed to fit well into his study schedule. The beginning of college proved difficult, as he had to motivate himself to train. However, with perseverance he got back into a regular routine and is now trying to start a weightlifting club in college.

After a trip to British Columbia, Tommy jetted from there across 9 time zones to start his adventure journey through the Camino De Santiago. Needless to say, jet lag played a big part in the challenge ahead of him! The biggest challenge however, was the heat. Hydration was very important, the group of 14 all looked out for each other in case they slowed up because of exhaustion, thirst, or blisters. Despite the language barriers between other travellers, they shared a similar spirit and all who crossed their path were very friendly.

Tommy’s residential project took place in Osmington Bay, Dorset – a large adventure park in England. It required a large amount of fundraising, as the group they were going to bring over consisted of 58 young scouts! There was a lot of preparation and planning involved in order to find any potential problems with the trip. Each leader was assigned a certain number of scouts to look after in the airport, which was a busy & difficult job. Despite the work involved the trip was very enjoyable, but the biggest relief for him was undoubtedly arriving home with every child intact.

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