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December 2020-January 2021 | Features

Amazing Grace giving back to Rotary

Amazing Grace giving back to Rotary

Rotary Young Citizen Award winner Grace O’Malley was so inspired by Rotary that she decided she had to get involved.

At the age of 15, Grace O’Malley, from Lancashire, won a Rotary Young Citizen Award in 2013 for raising tens of thousands of pounds for charity with her singing.

And to demonstrate her amazing voice, she sang “Climb Every Mountain” at the end of the awards programme shown live from Rotary in Great Britain and Ireland’s Conference in Harrogate on the BBC News Channel.

Now aged 22, Grace is reaching the pinnacle of her singing dreams and is training to be an opera singer, studying for a Master’s Degree at the Royal College of Music in London. She is also a founder member of the new Rotaract Club of London, chartered by the Rotary Club of London in June 2020.

Young Citizen Award Winner

Grace O’Malley, from Lancashire, won a Rotary Young Citizen Award in 2013 for raising tens of thousands of pounds for charity with her singing.

Grace said: “After winning a Rotary Young Citizen Award in 2013 and getting to know what Rotary does, meeting inspiring Rotarians and finding out about the incredible work that they carry out around the world to help so many people, I knew that I was going to join Rotary eventually. So to be part of Rotary now, as a Rotaractor, is amazing.

“I was so very proud to win a Rotary Young Citizen Award. I found all the other Young Citizen Award winners so inspirational that it encouraged me to continue to raise money for charities.

“Rotary supports young people and their dreams and ambitions.

“This encourages them to use their talents to help others, to support charities and those in need.”

Grace has now raised more than £100,000 for various charities, including The Royal British Legion, hospices and cancer charities, and she continues to sing at numerous fundraising events for Rotary clubs across Great Britain and Ireland.

She organised and sang at the Rotaract Club of London’s first event, a virtual Purple4Polio Prosecco Party which raised £1,100 for Rotary’s End Polio Now campaign, tripled to £3,300 by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s 2 to 1 pledge.

Grace also sang for Rotary in Great Britain and Ireland’s virtual World Polio Day event on October 24th.

She said: “I wanted to bring music and entertainment to people during lockdown and to support Rotary’s goal to eradicate polio. What Rotary has done to achieve a polio-free world is mind-blowing! Our Rotaract Club wanted to do our part in helping end polio which our club will hopefully see during its lifetime.”

Grace has now raised more than £100,000 for various charities, including The Royal British Legion, hospices and cancer charities, and she continues to sing at numerous fundraising events for Rotary clubs across Great Britain and Ireland.”

Grace also helped organise the Rotaract Club of London’s second event ‘Concert for Crisis’, with Rotary International President Holger Knaack as guest speaker, which raised almost £2,500 for the UK’s homeless charity Crisis.

She said: “Doing charity events and concerts made me realise that I loved singing for people and connecting with people which gave me the hope of becoming an opera singer.

“But now it also makes me feel I don’t just want to be a singer, I want to continue to sing to raise money for charities and those in need. I feel this has always been something I was meant to do and it is not something that I want to give up.”

Two other Young Citizen Award winners became Rotarians after receiving their awards.

Twenty two-year-old Digital Youth Council founder Harry McCann, a 2017 winner, became a member, at the age of 18, of the Rotary Club of Naas in Ireland, which nominated him for the award.

Harry McCann, a 2017 young citizen winner

He’s now in his third year studying for a BA in Digital Humanities and IT at University College, Cork.

He said: “Winning a Rotary Young Citizen Award introduced me to the benefits and good work that Rotary does, getting involved with the community locally and internationally.

“There were so many benefits to being part of Rotary that it was a no brainer.”

Maciej Szukala, a 2010 winner at the age of 15, became a member of the Rotary Club of Wrexham Glyndwr. Maciej moved to Wrexham from Poland when he was ten-years-old and found his new life in the UK challenging. But within five years, he was an active member of his community, teaching English to migrant pupils and helping young refugees settle in.

He now runs his own business “Legal Base” helping migrants and refugees.

The Rotary Young Citizen Awards are a great way to acknowledge positive young role models in your community, either an outstanding individual or a group, under the age of 25.

They include the Rotary Young Citizen Peacemaker Award recognising a young person or group who have made a significant contribution by building peace and understanding, whether in their school, local community, or with a peace project internationally.

There is also the Rotary Young Citizen Sporting Hero Award to recognise the achievements and contribution of an able-bodied or DisAbility sports participant or a group, or an individual or group who is enabling others to participate in sport.

Guidelines and nomination form are on the Rotary GB&I website. The deadline for nominations is February 12th 2021.

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