Templetuohy native, 18-year-old Jackie Kelly, has been honoured at the 2011 People of the Year Awards, organised by Rehab and sponsored by QUINN-healthcare, which were broadcast live on RTÉ One television last Saturday.
18-year-old Jackie Kelly was honoured at the 2011 People of the Year Awards on Saturday night for her remarkable courage in caring for her mother Mary, who was diagnosed with cancer two years ago.
Jackie received the Young Person of the Year award for what the organisers said was her “maturity, strength and motivation in the face of adversity, making her a positive role model for everyone in the community”. She was presented with the award at the gala event by X Factor star, Mary Byrne.
Jackie’s mother Mary was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in June 2009. Then just 16 years old, Jackie was determined to continue supporting her mum, and Dad, John, at home during this very difficult time, while also doing all she could to pursue her schooling. She told the Tipperary Star it was a great honour to have her hard work recognized on the national stage. Jackie now hopes to pursue and Business and Finance.
Jackie attended Our Lady’s Secondary School in Templemore. In Sixth Year, Jackie missed around 50% of the school year, but through sheer drive and determination, collecting notes from her teachers, asking for extra homework, and communicating with the school by post, email and text message, she managed to not only pass her Leaving Certificate, but obtained 120 points more than was required to secure a place on her chosen college course.
On one morning, in December 2009, Jackie was on hand to perform vital CPR on her mother after she had collapsed in the house and a pulse couldn’t be found.
“It was during Mary McAleese’s visit to the school. My Mam had received chemotherapy beforehand, but after every treatment, her system took it differently. She became sick, and I performed CPR on her,” said Jackie. “It happened so quickly. You just respond instantly. You really don’t think about it all.” Jackie learned the life-saving CPR from a book she bought herself.
Mary is now doing well and Jackie has just completed her first year in Business Studies and French at Limerick Institute of Technology in Thurles. Jackie says she couldn’t have done it without Our Lady’s.
“The teachers in Our Lady’s are all so nice, and so helpful. I knew it might help my mother’s recovery as well, if she saw me doing well.”
Jackie says her family kept her going through it all. “They’re a great source of support and strength and you couldn’t ask for better.
They’re always there and they’re absolutely fantastic.”
The Awards, now in their 37th year, were presented by Gráinne Seoige with An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny TD, the Guest of Honour in attendance.
Ireland’s answer to an honours system, the Awards provide a unique opportunity for the Irish public to honour outstanding achievements and contributions made by individuals and organisations to life in our country today.
The winners are chosen by members of the public through a nominations process and finalised by a panel of adjudicators, comprising of leading members of the media, voluntary sector and business community. The awards are organised by Rehab and sponsored by QUINN-Healthcare