District 133’s Young Ambassador, Darren McDonald, became the European Young Ambassador at the EUROPA Forum in Skopje, Macedonia, on Saturday 27th October. Darren, sponsored by Carlow Lions Club, faced stiff competition from Young Ambassadors from the UK, Belgium, Macedonia, Germany, Italy and Romania.
The international judges interviewed each candidate on Friday and the next day each of the contestants made a presentation on her/his project before a small audience of supporters and visitors. The presentations were of a very high standard and each described a very worthwhile project. These ranged from providing “shoes that grow” for a school in Africa to collecting Christmas “boxes” for 1,600 poor children. Darren’s project had two phases. Phase 1 involved raising €6,000 to help purchase a wheelchair accessible mini-bus for St Lassarian’s Special School in Tullow, which his two brothers had attended. This was achieved in June. The second phase involves fundraising to adapt the Tullow Youth Project premises to make them Special Needs Friendly. When this is completed the St Lasarians pupils will use the new bus to attend the youth project on a regular basis. Many members of the audience remarked that they found hearing about the projects and witnessing the passion and commitment of the Young Ambassadors quite inspirational. When the judges announced the result, 3rd place went to Germany, 2nd to the UK, and Darren was proclaimed the winner. Later, during the Forum closing ceremony, Darren was presented with his prize and was able to make a presentation on his project to the audience of over 2,000 Lions and guests. He performed exceptionally well and had the audience eating out of his hand, as his passion and natural empathy shone through. Darren’s prizes include a trophy and a bursary of €3,500, to be used towards his project.