GALLERY: Great night had at Offaly Student Enterprise Finals

Seven students go forward for the county

Justin Kelly

Reporter:

Justin Kelly

Email:

justin.kelly@iconicnews.ie

Seven budding teenage entrepreneurs from three local secondary schools have been selected to represent Offaly at the Student Enterprise Programme National Finals in Croke Park.

The young entrepreneurs will represent the Local Enterprise Office and their county at the Student Enterprise Programme showpiece on May 2.

The students were all competing at the Offaly Final on March 8, which was held at the Tullamore Court Hotel. Over 450 students from nine schools took part in the annual programme locally. This year a total of 33 businesses across three categories (Junior, Intermediate & Senior) and almost 100 students reached the County Final.

In the Junior Category, the student representing Offaly at the National Finals is Joanne Cushen from Colaiste Naomh Cormac, Kilcormac with her business “Gnó-Jó”. Her business provides clubs with fund raising opportunities.

In the Intermediate Category, a group of five students from St Mary’s Secondary School in Edenderry will be representing the county in Croke Park. Their business called “Seasonal Stationery Company” produces a range of hand-made stationery
and gifts.

In the Senior Category of the competition, Offaly will be represented on May 2 by Manus Heenan from Cistercian College with his business Abbey Bread. He has produced a yeast bread mix based on the original recipe used for over 100 years at
the Mount St Joseph monastery.

As well as sharing the prize fund of over €3,000, each category winner received a specially commissioned trophy designed by Ross Hathaway of Metal Meyham, Kilcormac, and every student received a certificate to mark their participation in the
competition.

This year, the students themselves had an opportunity to vote for their favourite project. The “Student Award” went to “To Dye For” from Gallen Community School, Ferbane who received €75. They produced a range of tie dye products including t-shirts which proved very popular with students.

A special teachers’ prize draw was held and gift vouchers went to Edwina Hall of Killina Presentation Secondary School and Gordon O’Donnell of St Mary’s Secondary School, Edenderry.

Speaking at the final, Mr Liam Quinn, Cathaoirleach Offaly County Council, commended the students for their efforts. He also thanked their teachers and parents for their support. “It’s a great opportunity for you (the students) to develop your business skills. Hopefully many of you will go on to set up your own businesses in the future and avail of the services of the Local Enterprise Office, which is now an integral part of the County Council," he commented.

On behalf of the Local Enterprise Office Offaly, Geraldine Beirne firstly thanked the teachers involved for their support and acknowledged that without their commitment the Student Enterprise Programme would not take place. She also
thanked the judges James Maloney, Enterprise Ireland, Carmel Ormond, Offaly Local Development Company and Caroline Collins, Tullamore Credit Union for giving of their time so freely. Finally, she gave a special word of thanks to the students for their hard work and enthusiasm.

Co-ordinated by the Local Enterprise Offices in every Local Authority area, the competition is the most successful student enterprise programme of its kind in the country.

Every September, entrepreneurial secondary school students across the country begin their business journey as they are encouraged to brainstorm, create and run their own businesses. In September 2017 over 23,000 students from 480 schools
nationwide began their entrepreneurial journey with the help of their teachers and their Local Enterprise Office (LEO).

Offaly has a very strong record at the Student Enterprise National Final. Recent awards won by local secondary schools have included Innovation Awards at both Senior and Intermediate level in 2016 and Senior Category National Final Winner in
2015.

The local students will be competing with hundreds of other student entrepreneurs from all over Ireland in Croke Park at the 16th Annual Student Enterprise Awards National Finals on May 2. The Student Enterprise Programme began in 2003 and
with over 150,000 students getting involved since its inception.

Further information around the Student Enterprise Programme is available from www.studententerprise.ie and by searching #studententerprise on social media.

The Local Enterprise Offices are co-funded by the Irish Government and the European Regional Development Fund 2014-2020.