A Portadown teenager who volunteers with disabled children and works in a charity shop, has been chosen from hundreds of Northern Ireland hopefuls for a top Boys’ Brigade award.
Jonathan Matchett (17), of 1st Bluestone, Lurgan & District Battalion, won the 2015 Make a Difference Award for Northern Ireland.
The Portadown College student, who joined the BB when he was five, travelled to Westminster this week where he was presented with the accolade by House of Commons deputy speaker Lindsay Hoyle.
Two members from Scotland and one from England were also presented with awards, although there were no winners from Wales.
Jonathan was accompanied by mum Grace and dad Robert and said he was “pretty chuffed” at the award which he described as “completely unexpected”.
Although he is busy studying for A-levels and has a part-time job at a care home, Jonathan still finds time to volunteer with children with disabilities, teaching swimming at Ripples in Brownlow and rugby at Portadown Panthers.
He also volunteers at the Compassion charity shop in Dollingstown, having previously worked at the Drop Inn Ministries shop in Highfield.
And he is a leader in his own BB where he teaches the juniors and is a volunteer leader in the company section.
Jonathan was inspired to become involved in volunteering by his BB leader George McMurray, and as time has gone on, his commitment has grown.
He said, “I thoroughly enjoy it. It gives me a real sense of gratitude and accomplishment. It teaches you to appreciate other people.”
Jonathan hopes to be a planetary scientist, but intends to keep up his voluntary work on the side.
In his small amount of spare time, he enjoys going out with friends and his girlfriend.
And the award proved the opportunity for Jonathan to enjoy a well-earned treat, with he and his mum spending a few days in the capital city where they took in some sightseeing and a West End show.