'Inspiring leadership': Cork activist named as Young Humanitarian of the Year

Saoi initiated the Fridays for Future strike at Cork City Hall almost three years ago. 
'Inspiring leadership': Cork activist named as Young Humanitarian of the Year

“At 19-years-of-age, Saoi O’Connor has provided inspiring leadership as a climate activist." Picture: Jim Coughlan

Cork climate activist Saoi O’Connor has been awarded the Young Humanitarian of the Year award in the annual Irish Red Cross Humanitarian Awards.

Now in their fourth year, the Irish Red Cross Humanitarian Awards recognise those who have had a humanitarian impact on the lives of others through volunteering, storytelling, skill sharing or fundraising.

“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," Chair of the Irish Red Cross Pat Carey said. "The Irish Red Cross Humanitarian Awards celebrate these people and organisations, highlighting the amazing work that they do.” 

Saoi O’Connor (19) pictured with strong advocate for climate justice and former President of Ireland, Mary Robinson.
Saoi O’Connor (19) pictured with strong advocate for climate justice and former President of Ireland, Mary Robinson.

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 activism has involved global youth strikes; national and international speaking events; and political lobbying, most recently, at COP26 in Glasgow. 

“At 19-years-of-age, Saoi O’Connor has provided inspiring leadership as a climate activist since the first ‘Fridays for Future’ strike in Cork," Mr Carey said. 

"We recognise this dedication to being a visionary leader for humanitarian causes with the award of Young Humanitarian of the Year.”

Pictured is Saoi’s friend Saoirse Swan. who accepted the award on her behalf. Photo: Tony Gavin. 
Pictured is Saoi’s friend Saoirse Swan. who accepted the award on her behalf. Photo: Tony Gavin. 

Other winners 

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. Zoey is the youngest member of the Irish Red Cross in the country.

The title of Humanitarian of the Year was awarded to Waterford woman Tammy Darcy, who has dedicated her life to helping teenage girls realise their rightful place in the world through her non-profit organisation The Shona Project. 

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.

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.

Noteworthy.ie 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.

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.

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