Avril Hannifin is TOYP winner 2018 in a category Personal improvement and/or accomplishment. Avril is a vibrant and energetic woman and mother who, despite encountering many obstacles and struggles, is employed as a ‘Digital Pathways Educator’ with An Cosan and is a Director and Secretary on the SEDCo (Social Enterprise Development Company) Board of Management. Read her inspiring story and last year TOYP journey.
It has been eleven months since I was first contacted by Melissa in JCI Dublin. I was shocked and could not believe that I had been nominated for a Top Outstanding Young people Award. Melissa was very kind and very nice to communicate with. I went through the process for nominees and was guided along the way. On the night f the awards I stood outside the mansion House and was excited to be going inside. The nominees were all wonderful leaders who have created a huge impact in society. I didn’t think for a moment that I had won an award. I felt very privileged to have even been among such inspiring role models. My daughter Dionne had come to the awards with me and was impressed by everyone. I reunited with Robbie Lawlor whom I had worked with in JJB Sports years ago. Who would have thought that we would end up as activists? I had written about Robbie for one of my college assignments after identifying him as a social justice campaigner and to be held in the same esteem as him was flattering. JCI held a lovely reception for us and the awards ceremony was great. When my name was called out I was totally taken by surprise. I was delighted yet apprehensive. I answered the questions asked and my joy was captured on camera as I spoke. I had been working and volunteering in the community sector for years and wanted to help community members to gain a good level of education.
After winning A JCI TOYP Dublin Award I was informed that I was now in with a chance of winning a JCI Ireland award. Ciara and Ronan contacted me and I engaged with them throughout the process. They were supportive and gave me a further insight into JCIs work. I also networked with Lisa Quinn O’Flaherty. Lisa and the film crew she was working with showed their film Silence is Golden for the Dublin premier in An Cosan. It was good to be able to network and share resources and create awareness for Domestic Violence. I have direct experience of this and knew of its impacts. I depict this issue when I say that the darkest Nights produce the brightest stars for this reason as through adversity we either break or break through. Many women, many are lone parents whom have to leave home due to intimidation and coercion. I learned a lot form Lisa’s legal presentation. I had a case before The Family Court and was able to use some of the information she shared with us.
The competition for the JCI Ireland awards was impressive. Entrepreneurs, activists, humanitarian workers, Digital innovators and Charity CEOs were all nominated. I submitted my documentation and did not expect to go further. I was invited to Mount Falcon in Mayo for the awards ceremony. I was accompanied by my best friend of 22 years and my daughter (my shadow). We had experienced a tough year and going to Mount Falcon was like a Fairy Tale. I felt like Cinderella. The JCI team were very generous. From the moment we got to Mount Falcon there was a wonderful welcome. My daughter and best friend were treated so well., we were chauffeured to the Jackie Clarke Museum to view an impressive selection of Historical artefacts. We came back to the Hotel and were greeted by Uisce the dog. We went to the Falconry and got an up close view of beautiful birds. We had a meeting and a lovey lunch back in the hotel. My daughter was luck enough to be on a table talking to harry McCann and Johnny Loughery. She did not know of their status and chatted away not a bother. They talked about her boxing and sports. It was very nice of the lads to take an interest and shows that they are genuine humble men. My daughter and friend went to use the leisure facilities while I went on the bus to the Connaught Whiskey Distillery. There was fun ambience on the bus and everyone chatted as if we all knew each other for years. We had a great laugh in the distillery. I had my first taste of poteen. I purchased a glass to remind me of this adventure. We headed back and the excitement for the awards intensified. We went to our rooms to get ready for the Ball. There was a champagne reception waiting for us when we arrived downstairs. We then got photos taken. Some more people had arrived, and we chatted away.
The experience gave me back my sparkle that I had lost over the past year. I was able to be myself and to enjoy the company of kind people. Everyone at our table was chatty and we all had a great conversation There was a lot of effort put in by JCI members to ensure we were well catered for and that the venue was looking amazing. It was wonderful to be around so many talented, intelligent individuals. My daughter got a learning experience outside of the classroom. I swapped details with some JCI members and some are Facebook friends. Me and my friend met up with Maria Scully in Galway while at my sister’s hens. We met for Coffee and a cocktail. Maria is a lovely lady and comes up to Dublin for events and invites me along. Unfortunately, due to my circumstances I could not go, however It meant a lot for me to be thought of. The journey from last March to now has been incredible. When I was awarded JCI Ireland TOYP award I was working part time. Since then I have gained an apprenticeship with Goodbody Stockbrokers. I am being trained in as an IT Engineer. There are not many female IT Engineers, so I am breaking the mould. I have also been doing PR and using my title to do more in the community. I have attended and spoke publicly at two more balls. As A Goodbody team member, I had a chance to nominate An Cosan to be considered as a charity partner with Goodbody for 2019. There were three charities competing for the support. I was invited to pitch with An Cosan CEO Liz Waters in front of the charity committee I pitched and we were successful. The corporate sponsorship will be for two years. I feel like I have accomplished something not just for myself and for my daughter but also for other learners. I want to continue to do good deeds. I was invited to join the Goodbody Charity Committee, and have I have joined The An Cosan Virtual college Team to complete the last two months of my apprenticeship. I will be speaking at a National Women’s Council event to mark International Women’s Week.
The future is bright. I believe that having the title of A JCI TOYP winner has helped me to advance and to be considered in such a prestigious corporate company as Goodbody. Many of their staff are award winners. I hope that the 2019 nominees will enjoy the experience as much as I have. JCI brightened up a dark time in my life and has had a profound effect on me and my daughter. My daughter now follows Harry McCann on Instagram and recognized Izzy as she is on her junior cert business syllabus. She has received an educational experience outside of the classroom and I hope she realises what a privilege that was. May JCI continue to do fabulous work and be supported in doing so.
Thank you very much for everything.
Do you know local heroes in your community? JCI Dublin is looking for outstanding young people this year again. Nominations are now open: