A Derry schoolgirl who lost both of her parents in a car accident eight years ago has been given a prestigious Diana Award.
Toni Doherty (11) regularly volunteers with Kinship Care in the city helping other children who have been through the same experience.
The judges in the Diana Awards recognised Toni as a courageous citizen and gave her the award for bravery.
“No doubt she is an inspiration in the eyes of everyone she meets,” they said.
Toni’s granny Mairead described her granddaughter as her “rock.”
“Losing her mother and father at an early age didn’t hold her back,” she said.
“She just gets on with it. Nothing annoys her.
“She is an inspiration to everyone.
“Her mum and dad were killed in a car crash so it has been hard but she just keeps on and is always smiling.”
Toni volunteers at Kinship Care NI based in Carlisle Road where she helps other young people who have also lost a parent.
“I help them through things,” said Toni. “I help make them confident, we play games and talk.”
Mairead said her granddaughter is very modest but added that Kinship Care has really helped Toni.
“She is so confident now,” she said. “Since she started with Kinship Care her confidence has just gone through the ceiling.
“She didn’t have the confidence before. She is just fantastic.
“Toni goes down and they play games and write stories together.
“She is fantastic with younger children, she provides a listening ear.
“I think she has a lot of her mother in her. That’s where she gets it from.”
Mairead says the pain of losing Toni’s parents will never go away but described her grand-daughter as her rock.
“We just have to keep on with it,” she said.
“I am so proud of her.
“Toni keeps me going, she makes Christmas for us.”
At Kinship Care they call Toni “one in a million.”
Mairead says the charity have been fantastic to both her herself and Toni.
Set up in memory of the late Princess Diana, the awards celebrate the generosity of young people aged between 9 and 18, with categories for volunteers, campaigners, fundraisers, anti-bullying champions and ‘courageous citizens.’