Co Derry girl, Carla McErlean, All-Ireland Youth Volunteer of the Year, leaves today for Washington DC to join youth volunteers from the United States, Asia and South America to take part in the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards ceremonies.

Carla and Cian O’Grady, from Co Limerick, were selected from hundreds of youth volunteers from across the island of Ireland to receive the title of All-Ireland Youth Volunteers of the Year at the 2016 Pramerica Spirit of Community Awards held last month.

They were chosen for their personal sacrifice and outstanding contributions to their local communities.

During the four-day event in Washington, Prudential presents awards to more than 100 outstanding youth volunteers from across the U.S. as well as national honourees from around the world.

Speaking ahead of the trip, Carla (pictured), from Kilrea, said to be travelling to Washington as a Pramerica youth volunteer was “a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

She added “I really can’t wait to meet the other volunteers and learn about their journeys and experiences.

“I would encourage other young people to get involved in volunteering.

”The feeling you get out of it is surreal and knowing you can help other people is something to be proud of.”

Carla is a sixth form student at Loreto College in Coleraine and following the loss of her best friend in September 2014 to a brain tumour, she was motivated to do something out of the ordinary to make her friend proud raising funds for cancer charities.

She organised various events with her closest friends in memory of her friend Anna, raising more than £11,000 for Cancer Fund for Children.

She also coordinated ‘The Goosebury Festival,’ a special event held at Anna’s house which raised more than £20,000 for Cancer Fund for Children and the Cancer Unit in Belfast.

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