Joe Schmidt, best known as Ireland’s rugby coach, is to be awarded with honorary fellowship of the Faculty of Paediatrics for his advocacy work for epilepsy services.
Joe is joined by children’s rights advocate and former senator, Jillian Van Turnhout, paediatric ophthalmologist, Professor Michael O’Keeffe and paediatric oncologist, Professor Sir Alan Craft, who will also receive this award, the highest honour the faculty bestows.
It is conferred on individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the practice of paediatrics and also to individuals who have made significant contributions to improve the lives of children.
Dr Ellen Crushell, dean of the Faculty of Paediatrics, paid tribute to the new honorary fellows: “We are delighted to confer Honorary fellowship to four deserving candidates in recognition of their activities, advocacy and work for the benefit of children in our society.”
Joe Schmidt is an inspirational rugby coach and the Faculty of Paediatrics is honouring him in recognition of his significant contribution to children’s health and wellbeing.
He has brought his own experience, as father of a teenage child with epilepsy, to highlight the need for support for all children with this condition.
Joe has been involved in countless charitable efforts, in particular for epilepsy and for people with acquired brain injuries, but also many other conditions.
He has been a keen fundraiser for Epilepsy Ireland and many other charities.
Professor Alf Nicholson, consultant paediatrician, who will be formally presenting Joe Schmidt for Honorary fellowship this evening, said: “Joe is a highly inspirational coach who, in the words of one of the Irish team doctors practises evidence-based rugby.
“His formula for success is simple and apt for us as paediatricians: enduring high performance reflects fundamentally simple, common–sense notions executed outstandingly well.”
Jillian Van Turnhout, a leading children’s rights advocate and former independent member of Seanad Éireann, was honoured for her advocacy, particularly in the area of child protection and children’s rights.
She spoke at the Faculty of Paediatrics Autumn Conference highlighting the importance of listening to children and putting them at the centre when decisions are being made about their care.
“Children are one of the most important and often vulnerable groups, particularly those on the margins of society.
“They cannot speak for themselves so we must ensure to work and speak on their behalf to protect their welfare.”
“I am chuffed to receive this tribute of an honorary fellowship by the Faculty of Paediatrics of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland.
“Throughout my working life, I have advocated for children’s health and wellbeing through legislative and policy changes.
“I will continue to campaign both in Ireland and internationally to improve outcomes for children and promote timely intervention to ensure the best outcomes for all children.”
Prof Michael O’Keeffe, Newman Clinical Professor of Paediatric Ophthalmology, was recognised for his significant to children’s health.
He said: “This is completely unexpected. It is great to be recognised in this way by my paediatric colleagues, many of whom I have worked closely with over the years.”
Professor Sir Alan Craft was honoured for his significant contribution to children’s health.
“He has a special interest in palliative care services for children with life threatening and life limiting diseases.
He said: “It is a great honour for me to be given this honorary fellowship by my Irish colleagues.”