A Derry teenager has been honoured for his sterling work to help his siblings following the death of their parents and other children.
Garreth Browne (16) from Shantallow was presented with his Princess Diana Legacy Award at St James Palace in London last week by Prince William and Prince Harry.
He was nominated by Kinship Care for his vital role in helping his brothers and sisters since the death of their mum Donna four years ago from cancer, and their father Douglas six months later. At the time Garreth was just 12.
His oldest sister Nicole (26) became the legal guardian for her younger siblings following their parents’ death to keep the family together.
Their sister Laura is now 22 and is currently at university, while younger brothers Matthew (15) and Daniel (13) live at home with their older brother and sister.
Speaking about Garreth’s award and visit to London, Nicole said: “It’s fantastic. Garreth had a great time. He went over on Wednesday and they did an Instagram workshop and then the awards were on Thursday. He had a ball.
“Garreth is an inspiration and a positive influence. He has been a fantastic role model for Matthew and Daniel, especially when it comes to getting into the sport. He is a boxer himself.”
Nicole added: “We all live together and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I never wanted for them to be split up- they had enough of a change and needed some stability and normality.”
Garreth was one of 20 young people from across the world honoured with an award at the ceremony in London.
He was described during the awards as a “pillar of support” for his family despite the hardship they have endured: “In addition to supporting his siblings, Garreth selflessly helps other children in Kinship Care by talking about his family’s experience in a positive way. He has shown maturity and bravery by facing his own emotions and troubles to help younger children work through theirs.
“He goes above and beyond helping in his local community by volunteering every night at his local youth club and boxing club.
“Staff at Kinship Care have been awestruck watching Garreth help and support children with disabilities and less confident members of the group, who, without his encouragement and kind words might have given up at an extremely difficult time in their lives.
“Garreth is described as ‘giving hope to everyone he meets,’ a true testament to a remarkable young man.”