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Three NI teenagers to receive a Diana Award for fundraising efforts

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Award winner: Ben Mooney

Award winner: Ben Mooney

Jamie Harkin

Jamie Harkin

Award winner: Ben Mooney

Three young people from Northern Ireland have each won a prestigious award for their fundraising efforts and work in their local communities.

Jamie Harkin (18) from Omagh, Hannah Kempston (17) from Belfast and Ben Mooney (13) from Bangor will all be given a Diana Award today during an online awards ceremony.

Set up in memory of Princess Diana, the aim of the charity and the award is to foster, develop and inspire positive change in the lives of young people.

Jamie was inspired to create a special calendar in memory of his English teacher, who died from cancer in 2017, and raised £10,000 in the process, while Hannah helped design a national curriculum against cyber bullying, and Ben has raised money for a number of cancer charities.

A former head boy at Drumragh Integrated College, Jamie made the Pockets of Positivity calendar in tribute to the late Graham Peters.

He also volunteers for Care For Cancer and donated all of the money he raised to the charity.

Jamie, who will be studying social sciences at King's College London this September, said the Diana Award was a fitting tribute for his late teacher.

"His wife, Karen, was really, really proud of the calendar and how much was raised but obviously that she now knows about the Diana Award, she's completely over the moon," Jamie explained.

"She was delighted for me and a lot of my family and friends will be able to watch me online to get the award.

"It's a really fitting tribute to him because he would have wanted to have been remembered in that way. The Diana Award recognises positive change which was the point of the calendar initially.

"It's the end of my school year now and I'll be going off to university in September so it has been a really nice end."

Jamie said the award was totally unexpected after he was nominated by Care For Cancer.

"I was never working towards this award," he said. "I just got an email one day saying I was nominated for this and I had won.

"They thought what I had done was amazing and that it needed to be recognised. It was a real shock and just came out of the blue."

Meanwhile, Ben's family are looking forward to the online awards ceremony and have already put the champagne on ice.

Ben's early childhood was marred by stays in hospital but he was inspired to raise money for cancer charities following the death of his granny, Iris, who died from the disease.

He has raised thousands for local and national charities by doing everything from running dressed as a sumo wrestler to clinching a Guinness World Record for the longest paper clip chain.

Ben's mum Pauline said the whole family were proud of him.

"He was really shocked because he didn't realise he had been nominated," explained Pauline.

"He's an #iwill ambassador and it was their team that nominated him for the award.

"We're all proud of him and it has spurred him on just to keep working away to try and fund raise.

"It gets him out of the house, gives him a bit of exercise and he does a bit for other people."

The #iwill campaign encourages young people under 20 to participate in social action.

Finally, Hannah's nomination for the award came about through her passion for astronomy as she was the first youth council member with the Irish Astronomical Association and chief editor of 'Stardust Kids', a quarterly magazine exploring astronomical themes.

Her technical skills enabled Hannah to make a real contribution to the Supercell Youth Board, helping to design a national curriculum against cyberbullying.

She also volunteered with the project 'Volume Control' in the Oh Yeah Centre in Belfast, organising concerts in safe, local venues for young people.

Belfast Telegraph