MT4Uth Win Volunteer Award

Belfast-based charity Music Theatre 4 Youth win award for outstanding voluntary contribution

Jenny Cooke is used to seeing her charges in the spotlight. Through the years the chief executive of Music Theatre 4 Youth (MT4Uth) has mentored top talent like Coleraine actress Jane Wisener, I’d Do Anything starlet Niamh Perry and countless others.

But earlier this week Cooke took centre stage as she received the top award in Volunteering Ireland’s Ireland Involved Awards for her contribution to the arts and culture. The award was presented by president Mary McAleese at an official ceremony in Dublin.

The Ireland Involved Awards showcase the work of volunteers across Ireland and celebrate remarkable unsung heroes of the community who deserve to be honoured for their drive, commitment and energy to not-for-profit organisations.

Based in Belfast, MT4Uth is now established across Ireland and has a following of over 800 young people. Cooke, who beat off hot competition from two other candidates nominated for the Arts, Culture & Media award, said of her win: 'I am absolutely honoured and very humbled to receive an award for my work with MT4Uth, given the calibre of the other nominees from across Ireland.'

She continued: 'I am extremely passionate about our organisation and strive to ensure that MT4Uth provides training and education in music theatre to young people across all communities and religious divides and provides them with a platform to network, develop, perform and grow in confidence and stature. We have all worked tirelessly to drive the charity forward and this award is a credit to our determination to achieve internationally recognised artistic training in Ireland.'

Commenting on Cooke's fantastic achievement, Gavin O’Connor of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland said:  'I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Jenny on her award, which is a positive reflection on the important and pioneering work that she and the team of MT4Uth have championed with passion and determination over the last five years, ensuring that young people on the island of Ireland have access to international best practice in music theatre.'