An Irish engineer for the UN World Food Programme who died in a plane crash last year has been posthumously named Humanitarian of the Year by the Irish Red Cross.
Micheál (Mick) Ryan, who was originally from Clare but had been living in Cork city in recent years before his tragic death, was named as the winner of the award at last night’s virtual Irish Red Cross Humanitarian Awards, with his wife, Naoise Ryan, accepting the award on his behalf.
Mr Ryan was killed in an Ethiopian Airlines crash on 10 March, 2019.
He was one of 157 passengers on board the flight which crashed minutes after take-off en route from Addis Ababa in Ethiopia to Nairobi in Kenya.
During his career, Mr Ryan worked tirelessly to ensure that vulnerable people in remote parts of the world had access to food and were protected from flooding and other disasters.
Accepting the award on his behalf, Naoise Ryan said it meant a great deal to the family.
"This award means so much to us and my only regret is that Mick isn’t here to accept it himself, I know he would be so humbled by it.
"To me, it’s recognition of the person that he was, he was a humanitarian in every sense of the word," she said.
"Mick believed that engineering was about people and people were at the heart of everything that he did.
"From the time we met at college he really believed he could make a difference in the world and he had the skills and talent to make that happen.
"But really, the reason that Mick was able to achieve all that he did was because he was intuitive about people, he was able to motivate them and have them share his enthusiasm and he did it all with such fun and laughter.
"He had a cheeky sense of humour and he was the kindest person you could meet and I know he would be blown away by this award – and probably a little bit embarrassed too because he never liked to be the centre of attention," she continued.