LAST weekend a car full of excited Donegal women travelled to Cork to attend the Junior Chamber International (JCI) Ireland Convention. We left Donegal on Friday morning and we arrived five months later.
Okay, so that is a slight exaggeration but still, Cork is quite simply too far away for my liking! However, all was forgiven when we arrived at the beautiful Cork International Airport Hotel for a weekend jam packed with activities.
We quickly checked in and got ourselves ready for the Friendly Business Awards that took place on the Friday evening. Many businesses were recognised including Patrick Gildea Hairdressing who picked up an award for Best Shop Layout.
On Saturday we didn’t stop from the moment we woke up. There was a debating competition held in the morning in which JCI members from the UK, Scotland and Ireland battled it out to win the coveted JCI Ireland National Convention Shield. Scotland were victorious in the end. When the debating excitement died down we were invited to a talk given by Kevin Cullinane, former JCI World President and it goes to show that sitting up the front isn’t as geeky as it is believed.
I found myself sitting right next to him which gave me the opportunity to have a little chat. He is a lovely man and his talk was very interesting.
He has seen so much of the world through JCI, it made me feel excited for what lies ahead. After Lunch we travelled by bus into the City where we were taken to some of Cork’s famous landmarks. We were given a tour of the historical barracks, Elizabeth Fort, followed by a spot of Archery ‘darling’.
Then it was on to Rearden’s Irish bar for some Jameson Whiskey tasting and Guinness pint pulling. I was still nursing a slight hangover from the night before so the Whiskey was rough going! I soon got over it though. The bus journey home was a lot louder than the journey in, I wonder why?!
When we returned to the hotel we had a little time to relax before preparations began for the Gala Ball which was held on Saturday night. It was lovely to see everyone in their finery and the layout of the dining room was beautiful.
During the evening an awards ceremony was held to honour various members of JCI and I was absolutely delighted and somewhat stunned to collect the National award for Most Outstanding New Member. Local Donegal President, Emma Boylan won the National award for Most Outstanding Local President. We were presented with a gorgeous glass plaque and framed certificate which I will treasure.
I met some amazing people over the course of the weekend and felt very proud to be a member of such an affluent organisation. Everyone has a common goal, to be a better person and to help others be better too. I had a conversation with the Local President of JCI Mayo where we discussed the upcoming local elections.
The various roles within each JCI branch is served by a particular person for a period of one year only. This is designed to give everyone the opportunity to experience a role at some point in their JCI career.
This year I am local Vice President and when asked why I wasn’t running for Local President I found myself giving answers that sounded an awful lot like excuses.
By the end of the conversation my mind set had changed and I suddenly realised that the only thing holding me back was my own fear. I have now decided to run for Local President and even though I may not be successful, at least I will know I gave it my best shot. JCI strongly encourage people to ‘Learn By Doing’ and that is exactly what I plan to do. Wish me luck!
Nikki Bradley is the founder of Fighting Fit For Ewing’s, a campaign to promote awareness of Ewing’s Sarcoma. Nikki is sponsored by All Sports in Donegal Town. Support her campaign by giving ‘Fighting Fit For Ewing’s’ a LIKE on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @nikkibradley59