Maria Walsh takes JCI national title

Maria Walsh with compere Padraic O'Maille at the JCI National Awards in Dublin.

Maria Walsh with compere Padraic O'Maille at the JCI National Awards in Dublin.

Young people from all over the country gathered in Clontarf Castle for the ‘Ten Outstanding Young Person’ (TOYP ) Awards. The TOYP Awards ceremony is a global initiative of Junior Chamber International which concentrates on formally recognising young people who are making giant strides in their chosen fields and creating positive impact on other people, their community, and society at large. The awards were the result of a nationwide campaign launched by An Taoiseach Enda Kenny early in 2016. JCI Ireland received record numbers of nominations this year, on the back of Joanne O'Riordain being listed as one of the TOYP in the World at the 2015 World Congress in Japan.

Winners are inspiring individuals who have made a significant contribution across a wide range of diverse areas including science, business, culture, humanitarian, and personal achievement. Their actions have changed the lives of young Irish men and women across the country by bringing important issues into the public forum. Keira Keogh, JCI Ireland director of community and national TOYP co-ordinator commented: “Ireland can be extremely proud of its young people, the calibre of active citizens, scientists, artists, entrepreneurs, volunteers, medical innovators, etc, that I met travelling around the country, was both awe inspiring and humbling, it's safe to say our future is very bright”

The 10 national winners included; Mayo winner, Maria Walsh, the former Rose of Tralee won her award for humanitarian and/or voluntary leadership. Her career is an impressive list of roles, cities, and organisations. She also worked extensively with charitable organisations such as The Hope Foundation, Mellon Educate, Adi Roche’s Chernobyl Children’s International, and Development Perspectives. She has travelled the world helping some of the poorest in the people. As the first openly gay Rose, Maria Walsh claimed a number of media headlines but not just for her sexuality. She also became a voice and example in society to young people chasing to abstain from alcohol and substances.

The JCI TOYP programme has been running for the past 85 years and serves to formally recognise young people who excel in their chosen fields and create positive change. The 10 recognised by the programme have been put forward to the TOYP world awards. Winners will be determined by both a public vote and a judging panel comprising the JCI president and representatives of the body’s partner groups.If selected, the winners will be flown to Canada and honoured during the 2015 JCI World Congress in October 2016 in Qubec.

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