Diana Award success for St Paul’s student

June 15, 2015

A Year 13 student at St Paul’s High School, who juggles her busy school work with caring for both her parents, has been recognised with a prestigious Diana Champion Volunteer Award.

Siobhan O’Reilly was nominated by her year head, Mrs Laura Hollywood, for the extraordinary work she carries out caring for both her parents while studying for four A-levels.

Praising the young student, Mrs Hollywood said: “Siobhan is an amazing young lady.  She is currently studying Biology, Maths, Chemistry and Spanish at A-level, and in addition to her studies, she volunteers with Newry Youth Forum, Catch the Culture Exchange Youth Group, Newry and Mourne Carers and Carers Trust.  She is a member of the Newry Young Adult Carer Group and a carer for both her parents.”

Siobhan’s wonderful work has also been recognised by Newry and Mourne District Council and she was awarded the Young Carer Award at the Youth and Future Talent Awards (YAFTAs).

The Diana Award was founded as a legacy to Diana, Princess of Wales’ belief that young people have the power to change the world for the better. Since 1999, the Diana Award has recognised over 42,000 young people who have made a positive difference to their community. By shining the spotlight on these young people with the Diana Award, it establishes them as role models to other young people.

Speaking to The Examiner about the award, Siobhan said she was “thrilled” to find out she had won and admits that she never expected she would receive the award out of the many young carers nominated from across the UK.

“There are so many young people doing so much more than me in more difficult circumstances.  It was a shock to find out I’d been chosen for the award,” she says.

The modest A-Level student says caring for her parents is “second nature” to her and along with her two older sisters who have now left home and her younger brother, she has been a willing and devoted carer to her parents for many years. Indeed she follows in the footsteps of her older sister who also received a Diana award two years ago for caring for her parents.

Unfazed by the commitment and responsibility such a role requires, Siobhan also manages to carry out her own volunteer work with several organisations. She says her involvement with the Newry Young Adult Carer Group has been a huge support to her over the years and, as seems typical of this amazing caregiver, has allowed her to help other young people who may be struggling with the task of caring for a family member.

The Newtownhamilton teenager says she has been overwhelmed by the support and good wishes she has received since news of her award broke and she paid tribute to her mum and dad who helped clinch the award after writing poignant accounts of what their very special daughter means to them, as part of her nomination for the Diana award.

Siobhan is now looking forward to travelling with her mum  to the glittering awards ceremony which takes place in London’s Canary Wharf on 13th July and says the trip will be a “real treat” for them both.

Praising Siobhan on her wonderful achievement, principal of St Paul’s High School, Mr Jarlath Burns, said,

“Siobhan is a truly inspirational young person, always putting the needs of others before her own.  She is fully deserving of this award.”