PM Awards Young Down #iwill Ambassador

The Prime Minister has recognised Dara McAnulty (14) from Castlewellan for encouraging young people to protect the environment and local wildlife.

Dara created a wildlife blog to encourage other young people to support their local environment. As an autistic teenager, Dara realised that developing a therapeutic connection with nature helped him manage his anxiety, inspiring him to engage other young people with the benefits of nature.

He has been a driving force behind the ‘Grassroots Challenge’ run by ‘Ulster Wildlife’, making videos to encourage young people to participate in conservation and get outdoors.

Dara McAnulty, pictured right, was delighted to receive his award.

Dara  recently worked with naturalist and Springwatch presenter Chris Packham on ‘The People’s Walk for Wildlife’ campaign, speaking to 10,000 people at Hyde Park about conservation. Dara has also completed a 30-mile walk that raised over £6,000 to tag and record threatened birds of prey, and is soon to publish a book called ‘Diary of a Young Naturalist’ based on his blog, which won runner-up in the BBC Wildlife Magazine Blogger Awards.

Dara has recently been selected as an #iwill Ambassador by the #iwill campaign, which seeks to make social action a part of life for all young people by 2020. The campaign’s annual #iwillWeek, this year 12-16th November, was an opportunity for the 900 cross-sector partners of the #iwill campaign to join together to celebrate the impact young people are having on communities across the UK, and to champion the voices of young people making a difference.

Dara  McAnulty from Castlewellan was praised by the Prime Minister for his contribution to the environment.

Dara is the latest recipient of the Points of Light award, which recognises outstanding volunteers who are making a change in their community and inspiring others. Each day, someone, somewhere in the country is selected to receive the award to celebrate their remarkable achievements. Dara was presented with his award at the #iwillWeek event held at Kew Gardens by Lord Gardiner last week.

In a personal letter to Dara, Prime Minister Theresa May said: “Through your award-winning ‘Young Fermanagh Naturalist’ blog, you are encouraging young people to support their local environment and learn about the importance of conservation. Your writing is raising awareness of how nature can help people cope with autism and you should feel proud of this is truly remarkable achievement.”

Charlotte Hill, CEO of ‘Step Up To Serve’, which coordinates the #iwill campaign, said: “At the #iwill campaign we know that young people have the energy, ideas and drive to address issues in their community and to tackle many of society’s tougher challenges. We are so pleased to see the Prime Minister recognising the astounding achievements that Dara has made through his volunteering, fundraising and campaigning, and hope this inspires Dara and other young people to continue their fantastic work.”

Delighted with his award, Dara added:  “I am deeply honoured to receive the Points of Light award… and a heartfelt gratitude. I sincerely hope that it shines a beacon on how vital nature is to us all, our mental health, our wellbeing and the survival of all life. We need more young voices to speak up and take action for nature though. I will continue my work and hope that many more will follow.”

Dara is the 1047th winner of the Points of Light award, which has been developed in partnership with the hugely successful Points of Light programme in the USA. Over 6,000 Points of Light have been awarded in the USA, and former Presidents have publicly supported the partnership with Points of Light UK. There is a similar cross-party approach to the UK programme and MPs from different parties often present their constituents with their Points of Light awards.

Regardless of whether it’s a doctor restoring local monuments in her free time, a father teaching young people life skills, or a local musician giving a voice to lonely people, the Points of Light award honours shining examples of volunteering across the UK.


If people know someone who could be a Point of Light they should write to the Prime Minister at 10 Downing Street.