Derry Girls’ star Jamie-Lee O’Donnell has helped honour the achievements of young care leavers at a special event in the city’s Guildhall.
Local young people who have been in care most of their lives were celebrated at the event on Friday.
The inaugural ‘Celebration of Success’ Awards was hosted by Mayor of Derry and Strabane, Maoliosa McHugh, in association with the Western Health and Social Care Trust and VOYPIC.
It recognised the achievements of young care leavers, aged 16 years old and over.
Arranged to coincide with Northern Ireland Care Day, the first ever awards event applauded the individual achievements of each young person.
Whether it was a training qualification received, good exam results, employment gained or success on the sports field, an award was presented to further recognise their hard work and efforts.
The awards were attended and presented by special guest, Derry Girls, Jamie-Lee O’Donnell, chairman of the Western Trust, Mr Niall Birthistle, Chief Executive, Dr Anne Killgallen, Director of Women and Children’s Services, Mr Kieran Downey, Professor Mary McColgan, Ulster University and Donna O’Kane from VOYPIC.
Speaking at the event, Mr Kieran Downey, Western Trust Director of Women and Children’s Services, said: “Every child should have the best start in life and an equal chance to succeed. This year we have approximately 160 care leavers throughout the Western Trust area.
“I am delighted that through their own tenacity and the excellent support and guidance from their carers and workers, they consistently perform well in relation to education, training and employment.”
Mr. Downey thanked the Mayor and Jamie-Lee, who plays Michelle in the Channel 4 show “for being with us and to our young musicians for making the event that bit more special.”
Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Colr Maoliosa McHugh said he was delighted to be part of this celebratory event. “It is very important that we do all we can to acknowledge and recognise the contribution young care leavers make to their local community and I am delighted as Mayor to host the event and to welcome everyone along to the Guildhall for the presentation.”
The young people who attended were treated to a morning of fun with light-hearted activities prior to the main prize giving. During the ceremony there were also some individual musical and drama performances from the young people.