Sonia is the Irish Red Cross Young Volunteer of the Year

Pictured at the Irish Red Cross National Volunteer Awards 2016 at Farmleigh House, Dublin was Sonia McKinney, Muff Branch Donegal winner of the IRC Young Volunteer of the Year. Picture Jason Clarke

Pictured at the Irish Red Cross National Volunteer Awards 2016 at Farmleigh House, Dublin was Sonia McKinney, Muff Branch Donegal winner of the IRC Young Volunteer of the Year. Picture Jason Clarke

A teenager from Inishowen, who was named as the Young Volunteer of the Year at the Irish Red Cross Awards, has revealed she was “surprised” and “shocked” by the accolade.

Sonia McKinney (14) was nominated for the award and also the youth achievement award by the Muff branch of the Irish Red Cross, of which she is a member.

Not only did the Scoil Mhuire, Buncrana student come top in the overall youth award, she was also in the top three in the youth achievement category. Sonia’s success came on the back of a CD she recently recorded for Donegal Young Carers, in memory of her uncle Jimmy’s fiancee Orla O’Reilly.

Orla worked with the Donegal Youth Service and was instrumental in developing and promoting the young carer’s group. She was sadly killed in a road traffic collision last year and in her memory, Sonia recorded the CD titled ‘Guiding Light.’ It featured four of Orla’s favourite songs: Dancing in the Sky; How Long Will I Love You; Songbird and Guiding Light.

The CD has already raised over 1,000 euro, something Sonia said she is “very proud” about. Sonia was also proased by the Irish Red Cross for encouraging other young people to discuss their feelings and the importance of opening up about what makes you sad. Sonia said this is what Orla always encouraged her to do and she hopes to continue this in her fundraising activities. Sonia joined the Muff branch of the Red Cross when she was just ten-years-old and she encouraged all young people to sign up. She said she was “delighted” to be nominated for the awards and had a “great time” at the ceremony in Dublin’s Farmlea House.

Meanwhile, Orla’s family and her fiance Jimmy McKinney have now set up a trust fund called ‘Orla’s Guding Light’ to help fund projects close to her heart.