Founder of girls’ support group wins Red Cross Humanitarian of Year award

Tammy Darcy’s Shona Project also wins Red Cross Innovation for Change award

A woman from Passage East in Co Waterford has been awarded the Red Cross Humanitarian of the Year award for her work in helping teenage girls. Tammy Darcy founded the non-profit Shona Project, which will have worked with more than 20,000 girls in schools across Ireland by the end of 2021. More than 40,000 girls attended its Shine Festival last year.

The Shona Project also took the Red Cross Innovation for Change award.

Presenting the awards on Sunday, chair of the Irish Red Cross and former minister Pat Carey said Ms Darcy had "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".

Ms Darcy was "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, " he said.


Accepting the award, Ms Darcy said her organisation was inspired by the illness of her 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”.

Addressing anxiety

Set up in 2016, the Shona Project visits schools all over Ireland to encourage girls to be kind to each other, especially to themselves, in addressing anxiety, depression, body image, self-esteem, boys, family drama, social media, exams stress, hormones, sexuality, relationships, bullying and feelings they don’t fit in.

Climate activist Saoi O'Connor (19) received the Young Humanitarian of the Year award. She initiated the Fridays for Future strike at Cork City Hall, holding a poster that read: "The Emperor Has No Clothes". She recently attended Cop26 in Glasgow.

As announced earlier this month, historian Catherine Corless received the Irish Red Cross Lifetime Achievement award for her work on the Tuam Mother and Baby Home. It was presented to her in Dublin on Sunday.

Described as "Ireland's only carbon-neutral hotel", Hotel Doolin in Clare won the Corporate Impact award for their "green team project" while the Digital Charity Lab won in the Digital Influence category for providing digital skills to non-profit organisations.

Journalists Michelle Hennessy and Maria Delaney of were winners of the Journalism Excellence award for "Tough Start", a series on the challenges faced by children in the Traveller community.

Zoey Coffey (4) from Clane, Co Kildare, "ZoZo" to her friends, received a Special Mention award for learning and promoting CPR over the past year.

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is Religious Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times