Inspirational Mayo local shortlisted for prestigious awards

Following a nationwide search to uncover Ireland’s most inspirational people, Sophia Shally, aged 15, from Westport, is celebrating after being named as a finalist in the inaugural Gala Retail and Sunday Independent Inspiration Awards.

With hundreds of entries hailing from across Ireland, an expert judging panel had the challenging task of shortlisting the top three finalists in each of the six categories from the hundreds of entries received.

Established to shine a light on those individuals who make Ireland a better place with their selfless acts and inspirational deeds, Sophia impressed the judges in her category – Inspirational Young Person of the Year.

Despite Sophia's third degree burns to her hands, face and scalp, Sophia is determined and leads by example. Her sufferings and surgeries, she has turned into a positive in her life and is a great role model for her peers and has a great love for life.

She said: “I am thrilled to be named as a finalist in the inaugural Sunday Independent / Gala Retail Inspiration Awards. It is a great honour to have been nominated, let alone to have been named as an Inspirational Young Person of the Year, finalist. It’s great that people’s contributions are being celebrated at these awards and I am looking forward to being in a room full of inspiring people later this month.”

Judges including the Sunday Independent Life magazine wellness columnist, Alison Canavan; RTE’s Marty Morrissey; Special Olympics Ireland’s CEO, Matt English; Gala Retail’s CEO, Gary Desmond and Head of News at the Sunday Independent, Paul Sheridan sifted through the extraordinary and emotive stories to select the final 18 nominees.

With just three weeks to go until the awards evening, the finalists’ stories will be front and centre at the first-ever Sunday Independent / Gala Retail Inspiration Awards event, taking place at Dublin’s Marker Hotel on Wednesday November 20.

With six categories covering young people, sports, caring, environmental change, charity and community; an overall Inspirational Person of the Year will be crowned at the Gala awards evening. For further information, see


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