Inspirational anti-bullying campaigner receives prestigious award

November 28, 2016

A Queen’s University student from Bessbrook who has been blazing a trail with her inspirational anti-bullying message, has received a prestigious “Points of Light” award from British Prime Minister, Theresa May.  Former St. Paul’s High School pupil, Anita Dennison, travelled to Westminster last week to receive the award – which is a daily initiative that recognises outstanding individual volunteers, people who are making a change in their community.

The 20 year old has established herself as a leading anti-bullying crusader in the last number of years, catching the attention of national media and winning more and more support every day.  Anita, now a second year student at Queen’s University Belfast has been spreading her empowering anti-bullying message which is borne from her own personal experiences at the hands of malicious cyber bullies.  At just 16, she endured a year-long hate campaign as anonymous bullies bombarded her with vicious online abuse. Refusing to buckle under the pressure of her ordeal, Anita shared her experience in a positive way to help other young people in the same situation.

She spearheaded a zero tolerance approach to any form of bullying at St Paul’s, becoming the school’s Anti Bullying Mentor, and started her own anti-bullying Twitter campaign (@bully_dont)and website attracting over 5,000 followers.

Her outstanding efforts earned her a Diana Award in February 2015 followed by a Spirit of Northern Ireland nomination for overcoming adversity last June. Such has been the success of her work, the Queen’s student has delivered a hugely well received TED Talk and more recently, she was invited to speak at Zeminar, a massive education and wellbeing event which took place in Dublin last month and featured a host of well known inspirational speakers who addressed students from the 32 counties of Ireland brought together to learn about everything from mental health, exam stress to becoming their own bosses.

On Friday 18th November, the business student received a phone call from the cabinet office in Westminster to inform her that she had been chosen by Theresa May, PM and her cabinet to receive the Points of Light award.  Speaking to The Examiner after receiving her latest accolade, the modest campaigner said,”It was a surprise to say the least, and I’m honoured to be a recipient.”

Anita travelled to Westminster on Monday last for an award ceremony that recognised her as an “#iWill” ambassador. The event also marked the fourth anniversary of her renowned anti-bullying campaign.

“I was chosen as 1 of 50 ambassadors from over 300 young people to represent young people from across the UK and to encourage them to get involved in social action,” explained Anita.

“I received this award from BBC Radio 1 DJ Adele Roberts. On the same day myself and the rest of the ambassadors were invited to the House of Commons for speeches, including one from Rob Wilson MP, at this event I was presented with my Points of Light award by Wilson.

Describing the occasion as “an incredible day of celebration”, the inspirational student said when she created her campaign, she aimed to help some people in her local area.

“Back then I never imagined that it would get me to where I am today, and for that I am truly grateful,” she added.