Belfast Telegraph

Friday 25 July 2014

FitzGerald wins charity work award

Mark FitzGerald's charity twins Irish schools with South African institutions

An estate agent who wants to empower young children with a sense of purpose and justice through a cultural twinning programme has scooped a top award.

Mark FitzGerald, of Sherry FitzGerald, was named International Philanthropist of the Year for being the driving force behind the Amawele project.

The son of former Taoiseach Dr Garrett Fitzgerald revealed that 85 schools nationwide have been twinned with schools in South Africa over the last four years.

"The difference it makes is that it gives Irish children a greater sense of purpose and I hope it gives African children a sense of hope," said Mr FitzGerald.

"Particularly as we connect children in primary school we're reaching them at a very young age, in the formative stage of their mind and their attitude to things. Hopefully it gives them a sense of justice which is a very important trait to carry through your life."

Mr FitzGerald has also helped Temple Street Children's Hospital secure accommodation for parents staying with sick children.

The awards, now in their fourth year, were set up by The Community Foundation for Ireland to shine a light on the extraordinary generosity and leadership of philanthropists in the country. Previous winners include JP McManus, Niall Mellon, Declan Ryan and Chantal McCabe.

U2, currently on tour in Argentina, won an award for an ambitious programme to give children across the country music lessons.

The rock band was named National Philanthropist of the Year for pledging five million euro to Music Generation, which aims to give young people access to vocal and instrumental tuition in their area.

Businessman Leslie Buckley was named the Local Philanthropist of the Year Award for supporting the children's cultural centre The Ark. The Digicel founder also established Haven, a charitable foundation dedicated to building and up-grading housing in Haiti.

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