Orla Jackman, of Tullow,
Co. Carlow, a student at Tullow Community School, was named an All-Ireland
Youth Volunteer of 2013 for dedicating herself to raising awareness and
funding for childhood cancer.
How did you hear
about the Pramerica Spirit of Community Awards?
chaplain told me about the Pramerica Spirit of Community Awards.
Who nominated you?
My school chaplain Ms. O'Connor
and principal Mr. Thornton nominated me for the Pramerica Awards.
What activities were you nominated
I fundraised for St. Johns ward, the cancer ward in Our
Lady's Children's Hospital, Crumlin, as I was diagnosed with leukemia and spent
nearly three years in St. Johns Ward and also at Barretstown Camp - a camp for
kids with serious illnesses. I felt I just wanted to give something back. My
volunteerism included two tractor runs, two cycles, auctions, raffles and a
field day. I also designed the cover of a chemotherapy booklet and organised for
my auntie to make Freddie bags, which the children use to keep their 'Freddie
line' in. To date I have raised a little over €60,000.
How did you find out you were a top 20
finalist in the 2013 Pramerica Spirit of Community Awards?
principal stopped me in the canteen while I was on my way to class and he asked
me to come to his office with him and he told me I was had won €500 and I was
picked as one of the 20 finalists in the 2013 Pramerica Spirit of Community
How did you feel being named 2013 All
Ireland Youth Volunteer of the Year?
We attended the gala
awards ceremony in March at the Lyrath Estate Hotel and when I heard 'and the
winner is from Tullow Community School…' I was thinking ‘oh my God, that's me!’
I was in shock! I couldn't believe it! After hearing
all the wonderful work the other 19 volunteers had done I was definitely not
expecting to win. To think that I was named the All-Ireland Youth Volunteer of
the year was just amazing, I just couldn't believe it. I was so excited when I
heard that I was off to Washington and €1,000 was going to my charity.
Tell us about your Washington, D.C.
On 3rd May 2013 I set off from Dublin Airport on a
six-hour flight to Arlington. When Leigha (the other All-Ireland Youth Volunteer
of the Year from Northern Ireland) and I arrived we were brought by the private
taxi service to The Marriott Hotel just outside Washington, D.C. We arrived much
earlier than everyone else so we decided to go shopping in Pentagon City so we
took the metro! The next morning we went down for breakfast and afterwards we
went to meet the international volunteers from Japan, Taiwan, South Korea and
India. We exchanged gifts and had a short meeting. After our meeting we all did
a short interview for YouTube. We had a free afternoon so we decided to rest, as
we were tired after our long flight. That evening we went to an icebreaker where
we were introduced to every other volunteer. We had our dinner and had some
activities that night.
The Americans loved our accents! We had an early
start the next morning as we were off to Arlington Cemetery. There we went to
the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Four of our volunteers placed a Spirit of
Community Awards wreath on the grave. We then we to see JFK’s grave and took
After Arlington cemetery we headed for The Hard Rock
Cafe! It was amazing everyone was up dancing with the staff! It was great fun!
After the Hard Rock Cafe we were brought to Capitol Hill where we got our group
photo! We all came back and headed for the 14th floor in the hotel for the
project sharing event. Here we all sat in groups and told everyone what work we
That night we headed to the National Awards where we
met Hollywood actor Kevin Spacey who was the guest speaker. He was amazing. We
got to talk individually to Kevin and got photographs with him. We heard
everyone's amazing volunteer work. As we were the internationals we were
presented with a star-shaped Tiffany & Co. crystal. We had food there and
headed back to the hotel. The next morning we had another early start as we went
to an elementary school where there we donated books and read to children.
We then went sightseeing around Washington, D.C. We
went to see the White House and also the Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam Memorial and
the Korean War Memorial. In the afternoon we went to the U.S Awards Ceremony in
the Chamber of Commerce. There we had a meal and the top 10 U.S. honourees were
That night we all went on a riverboat cruise around
Mount Vernon we had our dinner on the boat and had a party! That was nearly one
of the best parts of the trip! We had so much fun! The next morning, our last
day, the 102 American honourees returned home.
Our flights weren't until later that night so we the
international honourees were taken on a surprise trip! On the bus we found out
that we were going to be going Inside the White House! We were all so excited!
It was amazing! We had a tour around the White House and then went for some
food! Next stop was home! So Leigha and myself headed back to the hotel to
collect our suitcases and said our last good byes! We headed off to Arlington
Airport to get out flight to Boston and then to Dublin. While we were in the
taxi, the taxi driver told us that Brad Pitt had sat in the seat Leigha was
sitting in! We couldn't believe it! It was an amazing experience that I will
never forget! I would go back in a heartbeat again. It was an unforgettable trip
of a lifetime.
What impact has the entire awards process
had on you?
Winning the Spirit of the Community Awards has
been a huge impact on me, because when I won the awards I was in the newspapers
and on the radio, everyone seemed to know about it. Some people did not realise
the work I had done so winning the awards helped hugely as people wanted to help
out and get involved even more. Just two weeks ago I had my third cycle, which
had over 300 cyclists! I really think winning the Pramerica Awards helped hugely
with my fundraising.
What would you say to other students
who volunteer to encourage them to get involved?
definitely recommend and encourage anyone to get involved in the Pramerica
Spirit of Community Awards, as it is a fantastic achievement and a trip of a
lifetime to Washington, D.C. You get to meet so many great people and visit so
many great places!
What are you doing now - education, life,
I'm just after going into 5th year in Tullow
Community School, two weeks ago I had my 3rd cycle 'Cycle with Orla for Crumlin
with British and Irish lion Sean O'Brien'. An amazing three hundred cyclists
took part. It was an amazing day so far we have raised €10,000 and we were still
waiting on sponsorship cards to come in.