Dungannon family counting their lucky stars with two prestigious awards in one week

Clara Deehan, who won a Young Innovator of the Year at the Sentinus Award, with her dad Mark. She's Tommy Conlon's granddaughter
Clara Deehan, who won a Young Innovator of the Year at the Sentinus Award, with her dad Mark. She's Tommy Conlon's granddaughter

A Donaghmore Grammar student is to represent Ireland at the International Science and Technology Fair in LA after winning a prestigious award.

Clara Deehan, who’s just 14, took first place in the Sentinus Young Innovations 2016 Intel Ireland Award on Monday.

Tommy Conlon, who has just been awarded a BEM for services to the environment and angling

Tommy Conlon, who has just been awarded a BEM for services to the environment and angling

But the impressive award is not the only one to have been presented to a family member over the last week.

Her grandfather, Tommy Conlon, was awarded a BEM in the Queen’s 90th birthday honours list for services to the environment and angling.

He told the Mail: “I came from the top of Ann Street, where when you put the light out at night there was mice and cockroaches running about the floor.

“The water tap was outside the house and the toilet was outside the house - and that’s the background I came from and that’s what I want known.

“I had no education - and the papers gave me an education - were it not for them this would not have been possible today.”

A great week for the Dungannon family - Tommy said he’s incredibly proud of his clever, gifted granddaughter, while her father, Mark Deehan, who was there to see Clara pick up her gong told the Mail on Monday: “It’s been a tremendous day.”

A technology teacher at Sacred Heart College in Omagh, Mr Deehan said the title means that Clara will now be sent on all expenses paid trip to the US next summer with the technology and engineering product that the pair are now looking into patenting.

“I took her along,” he explained. “We came up with the idea together and she said ‘Daddy, can we do it’.”

There with a group of students from his own school, Mr Deehan said that unfortunately they did not win, but added that “they were very happy for her”.

“There were kids from all over Ireland there,” he added. “The nice thing about it is that it was held in the University of Ulster at Jordanstown, so it gave Clara a chance to look around too.”

Clara has also won praise from the principal of her own school, St Joseph’s Grammar School.

Mrs Geraldine Donnelly told the Mail: “The whole school community is so very proud of Clara’s achievement in coming first for Ireland in the prestigious Sentinus Young Innovations 2016 Intel Ireland Award.

“We are delighted that she will have the opportunity to receive her award in Los Angeles next Spring and we look forward to many more success from such a talented and creative young person.”

Bill Connor, who’s chief executive at Sentinus said this is the first year that the group has run the award.

Designed specifically for young people between 11 and 14, he said Clara will benefit greatly from the prize.

“It’s brilliant for a young girl like her to get an award like that,” Mr Connor said. “What a fantastic opportunity.”

Next summer the Donaghmore student will join people from 70 other countries across the world.

Speaking about the award Mr Connor said: “It’s a new award that we have never had before. It’s to try and give young people with a very bright future a chance. The judges identified her as an up-and-coming student.”

Clara’s Sentinus young innovators award will see her join over 1,000 young STEM students at the annual Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), the world’s largest high school science research competition.

As part of her prize, complete with spending money, Mr Connor said she will get the chance to take part in a lot of STEM-based activities.

“When she’s there, they’ll keep her very busy,” he said.

For more information see http://www.sentinus.co.uk/