Wednesday 29 January 2020

Star honours spirit of Irish girls

Orla Jackman (15), left, of Tullow, Co Carlow and Leigha Coade (17), from Armagh, with Hollywood star Kevin Spacey in Washington DC
Orla Jackman (15), left, of Tullow, Co Carlow and Leigha Coade (17), from Armagh, with Hollywood star Kevin Spacey in Washington DC
Breda Heffernan

Breda Heffernan

HOLLYWOOD star Kevin Spacey has congratulated two young Irish volunteers as they were honoured on the world stage for their selfless work helping others.

Orla Jackman (15), from Tullow, Co Carlow, and Leigha Coade (17), from Armagh, joined other teenage volunteers from across the United States and as far afield as Japan and India for the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards in Washington DC.

The two schoolgirls have had their own challenges to overcome – Orla was diagnosed with leukaemia three years ago and Leigha has cystic fibrosis – yet that has not stopped them from coming to the help of others.

Orla, a third-year student at Tullow Community School, has dedicated herself to raising awareness and funding for childhood cancer research and has helped raise over €50,000 so far.

Cancer

She is also on the youth advisory council at Crumlin Children's Hospital where she uses her own first-hand experiences of battling cancer to share her views on how to help other young patients.

She has also helped produce a brochure on Cytarabine – a chemotherapy drug that can be administered at home so children don't have to spend as much time in hospital.

Meanwhile, Leigha is a regular volunteer with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and is a "reading buddy" helping to improve literacy among younger children.

Last year she was selected as an Olympic torch bearer and she has since brought her torch to schools, hospitals and nursing homes.

Chief executive of Prudential Financial, John Strangfeld, said: "We commend these honourees not only for the impact of their service and their spirit of giving, but also for inspiring others."

Irish Independent

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