Volunteer Ryan off to Vatican

Ryan O’Neill, who has been volunteering in the Religious Studies and Physical Education departments at Bishop Hedley Catholic High School, scooped the top award at the inaugural Young People Awards in Leicester Square on July 1st.

The Pope Francis Award, named after the current Pope, was awarded to Ryan ahead of hundreds of other volunteers who were nominated for the honour. By winning the top prize on the night, Ryan now gets to go on a bespoke trip to Argentina and Rome to retrace Pope Francis’ footsteps, and could even get a chance to meet Pope Francis while there.

Ryan said: “I had no idea my volunteering would interest anyone. I was working a lot with Miss Rebecca Moore, who I must say has been an absolute gem about everything. She has given me the advice and guidance that I needed to carry on. Within the RE department, I was helping out the class with their lessons helping individual students on work when needed and generally I was just supporting them with Miss Moore with the things that she needed help with.

“After helping out in the RE department, I went back with Mr Jones and Mrs O’Keefe in the PR department. Mrs Harris, the Headteacher, and I got invited to the House of Lords for afternoon tea before the awards ceremony, and that was quite an experience. The Pope Francis award was the biggest award of the night and it was an honour to win.”

Mrs Harris praised Ryan for his hard work at the school and decided to nominate him after overseeing his tireless work at the school. She said: “Ryan has taken my breath away as I have never before come across a young man with such dedication and commitment to a volunteering role.”

Speaking about the award, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, who presented the award to Ryan, said: “These awards are an excellent initiative. I am pleased to support this celebration of the valuable contribution young people make to our world. The awards will, I am sure, inspire many more young people to put faith into practice as missionary disciples, which is exactly what Pope Francis encourages them to do.”

Ryan will be returning to school in September to continue to help in the Religious Education department.

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