Orchardville awards recognise 170 local people

Pic 26: (l-r) Joan McGinn, chief executive, Orchardville; Sarah Mooney (24) from East Belfast who won the prestigious Joanna Tuffy Endeavour Award; Darren Gregg (26) from East Belfast, who was awarded The Open College Network NI Orchardville Ambassador Award, which recognises those that have guided other participants; and Martin Howell, Chair, Orchardville

Over 170 local people with learning disabilities and/or autism had their achievements recognised at the recent (8 May) 24th annual Orchardville Awards Ceremony 2019 at Titanic Belfast. Northern Ireland football legend David Healy was a special guest at the event.

Sarah Mooney (24) from East Belfast won the prestigious Joanna Tuffy Endeavour Award. This award recognises an Orchardville participant who has shown true endeavour throughout the past year.

Sarah joined Orchardville’s employment project, Ignite 2, five months ago and in that short time she has overcome personal barriers and shown excellent progress and commitment. Sarah gained work experience in the organisations award winning Orchard Café on Newtownards Road in East Belfast and now feels ready to look for paid employment with the support of her employment officer.

A new award at this year’s event was the Open College Network NI Orchardville Ambassador Award, which recognises those that have guided other participants. Two very deserving individuals, Darren Gregg (26) from East Belfast and Jordan Hide (23) from Bangor, both received the accolade.

Darren’s supervisor at his work placement with Belfast Health & Social Care trust commented on Darren’s “can do” and positive attitude, demonstrating a range of skills which would be an asset to any employer.

Jordan’s manager at Procurement & Logistics Service (PALS) described him as “a perfect example of a hardworking man. Jordan has a great attitude and is a credit to his family”.  Jordan has secured paid work with PALS and is now mentoring a new participant on work experience.

Orchardville has been supporting people with learning disabilities and/or autism for almost 40 years.  The charity, which has offices in East Belfast, Bangor, Lisburn and Derry, provides accredited training and skills development. These include occupational and vocational skills, wellbeing support, skills for life and work, OCN (Open College Network) accredited training, school transitions services and work placements.

Speaking at the awards ceremony, Joan McGinn, chief executive, Orchardville, said: “Orchardville’s Annual Awards event recognises the fantastic progress and achievements of our participants who work exceptionally hard to get paid employment, complete qualifications and overcome barriers to progression.

“Our focus is on the person’s ability, not their disability.  We work with over 100 employers across Northern Ireland encouraging and supporting them to provide structured and meaningful work placements and every year we support over 500 local people to access employment opportunities.  We are continuing to grow due to the demand for our services and have now extended into the South Eastern and Western Health & Social Care Trust areas.”

Mrs McGinn added: “The annual awards ceremony provides an opportunity for service users, their families, employers, Orchardville staff and the wider community to come together to celebrate success. I would like to congratulate everyone involved on their commitment, hard work and tenacity.”

The inspirational guest speaker at this year’s awards was Adam Harris, CEO of AsIAm. Adam founded the organisation in 2013, and he has based it on his own experiences growing up as a young autistic person in Ireland. Adam shared his inspiring journey with guests at the awards event.

The Orchardville Awards Ceremony 2019 is sponsored by Bombardier and hosted by Titanic Belfast.

Orchardville’s projects and services are funded by Northern Ireland European Social Fund, Department for Communities, Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust, Western Health and Social Care Trust, Coca Cola Hellenic, Big Lottery Fund and International Fund for Ireland.