A local student has received a scholarship in recognition of his voluntary work in both Northern Ireland and Ethiopia.
Avid football fan Mark Turner, from Antrim, has received an Edge Hill University Excellence Scholarship.
The Business and Economics student volunteers for local charity Hope and a Future, which provides education and healthcare for vulnerable children in Ethiopia.
As well as working in the charity’s shop and fundraising, he has travelled to Ethiopia twice to take part in projects and see the impact of the charity’s work at first hand.
“As a football fan, I am especially committed to the school’s football team,” said Mark.
He added: “We created it to give the kids a focus and keep them off the streets – an ideology I believe strongly in.”
Before his first visit, Mark approached Liverpool FC and organised the donation of 30 football kits which he presented to the delighted children. He noticed that they didn’t have suitable footwear for playing football so, after learning a few key Amharic phrases, he took all of their shoe sizes and purchased football boots and socks for the whole team with his own money.
Mark is currently working with Hope and a Future on the development of Ethiopia’s first disability and youth centre. He has helped to design specific assessments to enable the charity to provide the correct therapies and equipment for each individual and also offered one-to-one support to a teenage boy with cerebral palsy to help him improve his movement and speech.
Alongside his voluntary work, Mark works as a Support Worker for Northern Ireland disability charity the Cedar Foundation, helping to run summer schools and youth clubs for disabled children. He is also a published poet and has contributed to the story sharing app Wattpad.
As an Excellence Scholar, Mark plans to use his experience as Deputy President of his college’s Student Council and Equality Officer on the Executive Committee to empower disabled students at Edge Hill and show that disability is no barrier to achievement.