Three outstanding Strokestown students have received a National Garda Youth Award in recognition of their remarkable fundraising and community work for Childhood Cancer Foundation Ireland.
In 2020, the boys (then Transition Year students in Scoil Mhuire, Strokestown) decided to restore a 1956 Ferguson 20 vintage tractor as part of their transition year enterprise project. While the aim of the project is to create a profit-making business idea, the trio – Andrew Jordan, Jack Beirne and Mark Rogers – decided to use the opportunity to raise funds for the national children’s cancer charity and raised just over €64,100. The cause is close to their hearts, as Jack Beirne is a childhood cancer survivor, having been diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL) at the age of three.
“The restoration was a labour of love for us,” said Jack, “Although, it was very hard work. We all love farming machinery and driving tractors and that’s how we came up with the idea in the first place. When we decided to turn it into a fundraiser, we never expected that we would raise more than €64,000 or win any awards! Maybe us winning the award will inspire other TY students to take on big projects.
“We were absolutely delighted to raise money for a great cause and one that I know well. I am lucky that my family and I have been able to move on from my diagnosis and treatment for childhood cancer, but an average of six other families are thrown into this world every week. I know how scary that is and how much the services and information provided by Childhood Cancer Foundation Ireland help”.
Childhood Cancer Foundation was founded in 2013 by parents of children with cancer to raise awareness of childhood cancer, fund emotional supports and services for children with cancer and their families and to be the voice of children with cancer in Ireland. On average, 328 children, adolescents and young adults (aged 0-24 years) are diagnosed with cancer every year.
Laura Cullinan (voluntary Director with Childhood Cancer Foundation Ireland and parent of a child who has also survived childhood cancer) said: “We are thrilled to see Andrew, Jack and Mark receive the recognition they deserve for their hard work and dedication. They put hundreds of hours into their project and really went above and beyond to help other families in their own community and beyond. During the project, they sent numerous videos and messages to children in treatment in Crumlin, who were following their tractor journey. They lifted the spirits of lots of children and families. They are a fantastic team and an inspiration from the moment they decided to pursue this project”.
Scoil Mhuire, Strokestown Principal Eamonn Corrigan also congratulated the trio on their win, saying: “We are very proud of Andrew, Mark and Jack here in Scoil Mhuire. They took on a very challenging project and really brought the community with them from start to finish. They thought outside the box and the results were fantastic, so we are delighted that they have received this award to recognise all of their hard work. We hope that they’ve inspired other students and we look forward to seeing more inspiring projects in the future”.
Inspector David Cryan of Roscommon Garda Station said the National Garda Youth Awards are all about community spirit: “Andrew, Mark and Jack have not only raised a phenomenal amount of money for a great national charity, they have also displayed team work, innovation, problem solving and, most importantly, they’ve made a difference in their community and in the lives of families living with childhood cancer”.