Humanitarian Awards 2021 Winners Announced

Tammy Darcy scoops Humanitarian of the Year award, the highest accolade in the prestigious Irish Red Cross Humanitarian Awards, for her work with teenage girls.

Teenage climate activist Saoi O’Connor awarded Young Humanitarian of the Year as 6 Irish Red Cross Humanitarian Award Winners announced

The winner of the prestigious Irish Red Cross Humanitarian of the Year Award has been named as Tammy Darcy, founder of The Shona Project, with climate activist Saoi O’Connor (19) scooping the honours as Young Humanitarian of the Year.

The prestigious Humanitarian of the Year Award is bestowed by the Irish Red Cross on an individual for exceptional humanitarian achievement. Tammy Darcy, a mother of three from Passage East in Waterford, has dedicated her life to helping teenage girls realise their rightful place in the world through her non-profit organisation The Shona Project. By the end of this year, The Shona Project will have worked with over 20,000 girls directly in schools all over Ireland, with over 40,000 girls attending their Shine Festival in 2020.

Now in their fourth year, the Irish Red Cross Humanitarian Awards honour humanitarian excellence and leadership across six categories. The awards recognise those who have had a humanitarian impact on the lives of others through volunteering, storytelling, skill sharing or fundraising. Earlier this month, historian and advocate Catherine Corless, was awarded the Irish Red Cross Lifetime Achievement Award. She received her award on Sunday in recognition of her investigations into the Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home in Tuam, Co Galway.

At the announcement of the award winners in Dublin on Sunday, November 28, Chair of the Irish Red Cross Pat Carey said: “The Irish Red Cross Humanitarian Awards are the highest honour given by the Irish Red Cross, in recognition of those who are dedicated to exceptional humanitarian excellence.”

“It’s important to remember that humanitarians operate at home, in Ireland, and abroad, across diverse sectors, always working to improve the lives of those in need,” he said. “The Irish Red Cross Humanitarian Awards celebrate these people and organisations, highlighting the amazing work that they do.”

“Tammy Darcy has not only demonstrated extraordinary leadership through The Shona Project, but she has demonstrated a measurable and far-reaching positive difference in the lives of others,” said Carey, as she accepted her award. “Tammy is driven by a vision to help teenage girls realise their rightful place in the world and, with this vision, she has inspired others to make this societal change a reality in schools across Ireland, in India and Africa.”

Speaking at the award announcement on Sunday, Tammy Darcy said: “I’m so honoured to accept this award, and am in awe of the amazing work of the other finalists. This organisation was inspired by the illness of my sister Shona, and being able to share her story with almost 20,000 young women all over Ireland has been one of the greatest honours of my life. Watching the organisation go from strength to strength, and become a movement of women and girls supporting each other, and being kind to themselves shows that we all identify on some level, and that The Shona Project, is no longer just about Shona, but about all of us.”

The Shona Project also took the honours in the Innovation for Change category, recognising those who have implemented an innovative, positive solution in response to a humanitarian issue.

Saoi O’Connor, who turned 19 last month, was named Young Humanitarian of the Year for inspiring leadership as a climate activist. Saoi initiated the Fridays for Future strike at Cork City Hall almost three years ago, holding a poster that said “The Emperor Has No Clothes”.  Since then Saoi’s tireless activism has involved global youth strikes; national and international speaking events; and political lobbying, most recently, at COP26 in Glasgow; as well as a friendship with fellow activist Greta Thunberg. On Sunday, four-year-old Zoey Coffey, from Clane, Co Kildare and known as ZoZo to her friends, received a Special Mention award in this category for learning and promoting CPR with her friends and family for the past year. journalists Michelle Hennessy and Maria Delaney were named winners of the Journalism Excellence Award for their long-form series Tough Start, which investigated the challenges that children from the Traveller community face in healthcare, education and living conditions. Noteworthy is the investigative platform of Journal Media which also publishes

Hotel Doolin, in County Clare, was awarded the Corporate Impact Award for their Green Team Project. As Ireland’s only carbon-neutral hotel, the team has implemented innovative changes across all its operations, including weddings hosted in their custom-built Eco Barn.

The Digital Charity Lab took the top spot in the Digital Influence category for their work providing digital skills for non-profits, enabling them to shine a light on issues affecting people in Ireland and abroad.

The work of the volunteer-led Irish Red Cross in Ireland, which was established in 1939, helps the most vulnerable people in Irish society. During the Covid-19 pandemic, volunteers have delivered almost 15,000 food deliveries to isolated and vulnerable households as well transferring about 1,000 patients to assist the national ambulance service.

Nominations to Irish Red Cross Humanitarian Awards are open to the public and submitted securely online. Shortlisted candidates and winners are chosen by the judging panel. This year’s panel included: Derry Gray, partner at BDO Ireland; Fergus Finlay, former chief executive, Barnardos Ireland; Frances Daly, governor Cloverhill Prison; Karlin Lillington, journalist, The Irish Times.

With almost 3,000 volunteers and 78 branches across all 26 counties in the Republic, the Irish Red Cross provides a wide range of services, including First Aid (delivery and training), Youth Services, Community Support, Emergency Relief (floods & extreme weather), Migration, Lake & Mountain Rescue; and Prison programmes.