Inspirational Michelle is honoured at all-Ireland community awards ceremony

Michelle Peacock of Downshire School, Carrickfergus,�receiving her silver medallion from Henry McGarvey (MD Pramerica Systems Ireland Ltd) and John Longeran (Former Governor of Mountjoy Prison), as a finalist in the Pramerica Spirit of the Community Awards 2012, in the City Hotel Derry. �Photo: Paul McGuckin

Michelle Peacock of Downshire School, Carrickfergus,�receiving her silver medallion from Henry McGarvey (MD Pramerica Systems Ireland Ltd) and John Longeran (Former Governor of Mountjoy Prison), as a finalist in the Pramerica Spirit of the Community Awards 2012, in the City Hotel Derry. �Photo: Paul McGuckin

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AN inspirational Larne teenager has been honoured in an all-Ireland community awards.

Michelle Peacock, a Year 12 student at Downshire School in Carrick, was praised for her outstanding work in helping others by sharing her own cancer experience.

The 15-year-old was one of 16 Spirit of Community finalists from all corners of Ireland, who received 500, an engraved silver medallion and personal recognition from former governor of Mountjoy Prison, John Lonergan at the annual Pramerica awards gala event in Londonderry.

Michelle also won a special achievement award as she ranked as highest in the junior category.

In July, 2011 Michelle underwent radical surgery in London to remove cancer. Described as a determined young woman, she faced her diagnosis and treatment with a maturity beyond her years.

While recovering from her most recent surgery, Michelle wrote a book for other teenagers affected by cancer to help them through their personal battle. Michelle felt they might gain a more positive perspective from reading her personal story.

Her book plainly explains cancer in a way that others her age can easily understand and answers questions that Michelle had while undergoing treatment.

Michelle’s biggest hurdle while writing the book was her health.

“Some days, just having the strength to sit up and type was a challenge,” she said. She finished her book in October and hopes to have it published soon.

“Michelle has been an inspiration to many people,” says Jacqueline Stewart, Downshire School’s principal.

“Our community greatly admires her courage, determination and positive attitude.”

The Pramerica Spirit of Community Awards – sponsored by Pramerica Systems Ireland Ltd. in partnership with the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD) and the General Teaching Council for Northern Ireland (GTCNI) – were introduced in Ireland in 2006 to encourage youth volunteerism and to identify and reward young role models.

“It is an honour to be among so many inspiring young people this evening,” said guest speaker John Lonergan.

“These young ambassadors inspire hope and optimism for the future and do so eagerly and energetically.”

Henry McGarvey, managing director of Pramerica Systems Ireland Ltd, said, “It is a great honour to be involved in this event each year and to celebrate our young people and youth volunteerism. These students are role models to young and old alike.

“Their commitment shows the strength and determination of their generation and hopefully generations to follow.”

Pramerica selected finalists in February based on motivation, service, impact, sustainability, commitment and personal challenge.

They were presented with Certificates of Achievement at their schools by officials of Pramerica, NAPD and GTCNI last month, and received further recognition at the dinner.