What does a sailor, a scientist and Ireland’s potential first astronaut have in common?
It’s not every day that you have young people from such remarkable, niche backgrounds in one room but, on August 11, the TOYP winners from Mayo gathered in the stunning Mount Falcon Estate for the ‘Ten Outstanding Young Person’ (TOYP) Awards’.
The TOYP Awards is a global initiative of Junior Chamber International (JCI) which concentrates on formally recognising young people who are making giant strides in their chosen fields and creating a positive impact on other people, their community and society at large.
In previous years all the nominees from across the county gathered with their family and friends for a big celebration, but this year things had to run differently.
Originally scheduled to take place in April, these awards were postponed and, with limited numbers allowed, a small intimate ceremony was held, but it didn’t make it any less powerful.
It was a special evening that celebrated the outstanding accomplishments of these young people in a number of different areas (business, technology, culture, medical innovation and more).
Deputy Rose Conway-Walsh and Councillor Mark Duffy both attended and got the opportunity to learn about the amazing things that these young people are doing.
JCI Mayo president Áine Mc Manamon commented: “There are many young people from Mayo who are going above and beyond in different areas, and all contributing in various ways to creating positive change in their communities."
At JCI Mayo they are proud to be able to share their stories and play our part in getting these outstanding young people seen and recognised.”
JCI Mayo was honoured to present this diverse set of winners an award supplied by Oliver Kelleher Trophies, Castlebar.
1. Fully certified award winning Life Coach, Tara Rafter, teaches people techniques to better manage the emotional stress of everyday life.
Through her extensive training and her vast coaching experience, she began to notice patterns in those who succeed and wanted to create a tool that really made a positive impact in people’s lives.
She set about creating the goal setting journal ‘My Life Compass’ and since her nomination has also released the ‘My Soul Compass’ journal.
2. In achieving her dream of becoming an astronaut, Dr. Norah Patten hopes to inspire and encourage the children of Ireland to dream big and reach for the stars!
Having a keen interest in education and STEM, Norah founded her own company, Planet Zebunar, which is launching a new series of STEM products designed to encourage, inspire and motivate the next generation of engineers, astronauts, scientists and innovators.
3. President of Westport Chamber of Commerce and owner of digital marketing agency, Bold Craft Marketing, Helen Gavin’s approach to leadership is very simple, create a safe space for people to be their best selves and the rest will happen naturally.
Helen’s vision for her business is to stimulate economic growth in her community, town and county by using her marketing skills to enable businesses to connect with their markets faster and build their market share quicker.
4. Westport woman, Joan Mulloy, launched her professional solo sailing career in 2018 and is now competing at the highest levels of her sport.
Joan was the first Irish female competitor in the gruelling La Solitaire du Figaro race in August 2018 and has since competed in many top level solo offshore races.
Joan’s ultimate goal is to compete in Vendée Globe, the “Everest of sailing”. She’s hoping to be the first Irish woman to ever enter this prestigious race in 2024, and of course, the first one to win it!
5. Craft goldsmith jeweller, Nigel O’Reilly, creates exquisite jewellery using traditional craftsmanship and innovative technology.
Inspired by each stone's unique natural qualities, O'Reilly's work is focussed where culture and nature meet.
After extensive traveling, living in London and Stockholm, and finding inspiration on the beauty of the west of Ireland, it all adds to the unique qualities he brings to each piece and the cultural and traditional aspects that you see in every design.
6. Anne-Marie Flynn is an active volunteer in her community, assisting with festivals, events and fundraisers.
She has contributed to current affairs and debate programmes on RTÉ and Newstalk, and is one of the founding members of Mayo Club ’51.
Anne-Marie is also a volunteer board member of the Mayo Rape Crisis Centre, which oversees the operation of the Centre and works to support the Director there in operations, fundraising and PR.
7. Despite his tender years, Aaron Hannon has a strong history of medical innovation.
His medical device innovation journey began when he designed an automatic shaving device (Enable Arm) for his grandfather, who suffered from severe post-stroke paralysis.
He is currently dedicating his time to the needs of patients battling Covid-19.
Aaron uses his design, engineering and entrepreneurship background to keep patients at the center of the design process and improve their quality of life.
He believes in giving back to his community by providing STEM education opportunities to young people.
8. Padraic Rocliffe, founder of Shine A Light, is everything we look for in an inspiring leader.
He regularly gives keynote speeches on overcoming adversity and giving back to those who need it most.
This initiative is underpinned by a focus on a series of previous life experiences and challenges associated with depression, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, a near death experience, long rehabilitation process, a spiritual awakening and the use of physical activity to combat many of these tribulations.
9. Laura Beston got involved in activism and charity from a very young age as her family had a big focus on disability and supporting others.
She believes that while raising money and supporting charities is important, working towards a long term effect through policy can make a much bigger and more sustainable impact.
Laura recognises the progress in how society views mental health, but believes there is still a lot to be done until it becomes completely destigmatized.
10. Castlebar woman, Sharon McNamara, quietly dedicates her time and effort to helping charities and initiatives supporting women and children.
Organising a collection of female sanitary products to be donated to the residents of the direct provision centre in Ballyhaunis, hosting fundraisers and volunteering for the Mayo Rape Crisis Centre and campaigning for environmental changes, she is a true leader that inspires and encourages everyone around her to want to do the same
After this amazing Top Ten was selected, the judges had another difficult task of selecting which nominees would go on to the National Awards run by JCI Ireland.
The virtual awards ceremony will be held on August 29 and every good wish is extended to the Mayo nominees.
TOP IMAGE: JCI Mayo President, Áine Mc Manamon, one of the 2020 JCI Mayo Winners Aaron Hannon, JCI Ireland National President Ronan Neacy.
PHOTO: JASON OSBORNE