The first ever Pope Francis Award was given to Ryan O'Neill from Merthyr Tydfil by Cardinal Vincent Nichols, for his work tirelessly supporting and inspiring young people at a glittering ceremony in London’s Leicester Square on 1 July 2015. Awards were made in eight categories, including care for creation, human dignity and the protection of workers, with a special award for most inspiring youth leader going to Bruno Gambini.
“Young people all too often get a bad name,” said Danny Curtin, Director of Million Minutes. “But they are amazing. Million Minutes is all about giving a voice to the young people that get overlooked - we’re delighted to have held these awards to celebrate all that young people are and all that they give to our world.”
The recipient of the Pope Francis Award also won a tailor-made study trip to South America to trace the footsteps of Pope Francis, or Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio as he was known in Argentina.
More than 200 young people were nominated, with leading people comprising the judging panels for specific awards. The judging panels were consistently impressed with the standard of the nominations.
Before the Awards themselves, many lucky winners and other nominees were hosted by Baroness Hollins at the House of Lords for high tea and a set of workshops to support the winners in their work for social justice.