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Ireland’s rising stars in battle to become Nissan ambassadors


20 of Ireland’s new generation of rising stars in the fields of business, sport, music, fashion and social enterprise are set to face off in a public vote to secure a coveted place on the Nissan Generation Next ambassador programme.

Over 1,000 high-flying Irish achievers from all walks of life applied to be part of this year’s Nissan Generation Next ambassador programme which supports Ireland’s leaders and champions of tomorrow on their journey to success.

Max Doyle & Sarah O'Connor Finalists Nissan Generation

Max Doyle & Sarah O’Connor Finalists Nissan Generation

The seven finalists who attract the highest number of votes in the online poll will each receive the keys to a brand new, taxed and insured Nissan to drive for a year as Nissan Generation Next ambassadors.

A further three finalists will also be chosen by Nissan to join the innovative ambassador programme which has already helped 20 young Irish innovators, entrepreneurs, sports stars and go-getters to succeed on the national and international stage since it was created two years ago.

Gary Kean & Eoin Walsh Finalists Nissan Generation Next

Gary Kean & Eoin Walsh Finalists Nissan Generation Next

“Nissan Generation Next is all about helping the brightest and best to get ahead on the road to success. These young people are real winners with an international outlook. Their vision, ingenuity and drive to succeed in their chosen field is truly inspiring,” said James McCarthy, CEO of Nissan Ireland.

Members of the public can cast their vote for any of the 20 finalists who are in the running to become Nissan Generation Next ambassadors online at www.nissangenerationnext.ie anytime up to 28th June 2016. 

Emma Manley Finalist Nissan Generation Next

Emma Manley Finalist Nissan Generation Next

The full list of Nissan Generation Next finalists announced today is as follows:

Max Doyle (23), Kinsale, Cork – ‘One for Ireland’

Serial business and social entrepreneur Max Doyle turned a simple idea into a hugely successful fundraising organisation when he founded ‘One For Ireland’. It offers everyone the chance to give One Euro, for One Cause on One Day and recently raised €210,000 for youth homelessness. Max’s goal for 2017 is to raise €1m in a single day for a cause Ireland cares about and to expand his fundraising model internationally.

Evan Gray (30), Pearse Street, Dublin – Laundr.ie

Savvy entrepreneur, Evan founded Laundr.ie., Ireland’s first dry cleaning and laundry delivery app, in August 2015. Laundr.ie has been a phenomenal success making a simple task of dry cleaning and laundry. Thousands of customers use the app to book online and Laundr.ie collect and drop off clean clothes from any Dublin location, 7 days a week. Evan is expanding his business to other cities in Ireland and also plans to develop it throughout Europe.

Emma Manley (30) Castleknock, Dublin – Manley

Fashion designer, Emma has enjoyed enormous success since setting out to create an Irish womenswear fashion collection in 2011. Four years on she is the owner and Creative Director of Manley, a fashion and accessories brand that has succeeded in its mission to shake up the norm on the Irish fashion scene. Manley is an innovative line of beautifully made contemporary separates and alternative evening wear. Emma’s brand also offers Manley Jewellery and will soon be extended to offer Manley Bags.

Edel Browne (19), Athenry, Galway – Free Feet Medical

Edel is the founder of Free Feet Medical which is developing a multi-award winning device designed to treat gait freezing for people with Parkinson’s disease by 40 per cent . The Free Feet technology has the potential to improve quality of life for up to 10 million people suffering from Parkinson’s disease globally. Edel has been listed among the Top 38 Women in Tech by Technology Voice and has also been named as Outstanding Young Person of the Year by JCI Galway.

Stephen Cluskey (32), Swords, Dublin – Disability Rights Advocate & Entrepreneur

Stephen was paralysed from the neck down when he fell from a hay bale in 2002. The experience became ‘the driving force behind a whole new life’ as an advocate and voice for change to improve transport and travel for people with disability. He has succeeded in changing regulations to improve the taxi industry, securing €1.7 million in Government grant aid and developing a national TV show to change the public consciousness on accessibility. He recently secured investment from Enterprise Ireland for his social enterprise ‘Mobilitymojo.ie’, which is like TripAdvisor for disabled people, providing ‘access at your fingertips’ and making it as easy to travel as anyone else in society.

Peter Barrett (24), Donnybrook Dublin – 8bytes.ie

Tech entrepreneur Peter co-founded 8bytes, a Dublin based technology consultancy and app house that creates high quality apps and software products to solve problems for clients or bring their ideas to life as great products. 8bytes has an international client base and Peter’s long terms goals are for the company to develop its own products in order to help businesses of all sizes to succeed.

Ryan Scott (26) & Sam O’Bryne (24), Howth, Dublin – DropChef.com

Ryan and Sam’s business DropChef.com makes cooking dinner easy by delivering all the ingredients you need to cook a healthy dinner along with an easy to follow recipe. Each ingredient is pre-measured, saving customers time and money while also eliminating food waste. For every meal they deliver Ryan and Sam donate a meal to children with Severe Acute Malnourishment through their partnership with Irish charity Valid Nutrition. Their ‘Cook-One-Feed One’ initiative has donated 10,000 meals to date.

Alison Stroh, Greystones, Wicklow –  Dr. Coy’s Health Foods

Food entrepreneur Alison has created a chocolate bar with certified health benefits, co-founding her business Dr. Coy’s Health Foods with her brother Aaron in 2014. Their patented ‘Nutritional Chocolate Bar’ has lower effects on blood glucose levels compared to chocolate containing sugar. The bar is also high in fibre and vitamin E and is gluten and lactose free. It is already listed in SuperValu, Avoca, Brown Thomas, Centra, Lloyds Pharmacy and Applegreen.

Sarah O’Connor, Sundayswell, Cork – The Cool Food Company

Food entrepreneur Sarah created The Cool Food Company in 2014. Its signature brand ‘Cool Beans’ turned the humble bean into a great tasting, healthy, convenient meal for people with busy lives and comes in three mind-blowing flavours. Sarah is set to launch more fun products including a healthy new baked potato with beans full meal solution. She is targeting €1m turnover and plans to be listed with over 1,000 stockists across Ireland & UK and to employ seven staff fulltime.

Shane Ryan (23), Limerick City – FEED

Shane started FEED (eatfeed.ie) as a lunch delivery service in November 2015, providing hungry office workers in Dublin with a different healthy lunch box each day. He is now expanding nationwide with the launch of a new range of functional lunch pots which will be available in convenience retail stores. FEED is a “lunch with a conscience” and for every pot it sells FEED donates one meal to a child in need in the developing world through its partner Mary’s Meals.

Gary Keane (30), Kerry & Eoin Walsh (25), Cork – ‘Whiteboys’

Gary from Tralee and Eoin from Bishopstown formed White Boys after meeting as session players on the Late Late Show. The funk duo reached number two in the Irish iTunes Charts with their debut single ‘Stylin’. They have sold out shows nationwide with their colourful, uptempo RnB, soul and funk music and recently travelled to LA to collaborate with producer G1 (R.Kelly, Snoop Dogg) and mixer Tommy D. Daugherty (Death Row Records, TuPac).

Fiona Gryson (23), Skryne, Tara, Meath – Harpist

Professional concert harpist Fiona has set her sights on winning prestigious international harp competitions, playing the harp as part of an orchestra for a Disney film and on promoting and bringing all that the harp has to offer to the widest possible audience. The harp is loved by many but seen and heard live by few, which is something Fiona wants to change through performance and by putting the harp at the centre of music education in Ireland.

Dermot Sheedy (26), Darragh, Clare – Percussionist ‘Hermitage Green

Self-taught percussionist Dermot is topping the charts, playing sold out shows and supporting international acts like Gavin James, Josh Ritter and The Pogues as part of the Limerick based band Hermitage Green. He has won seven All-Ireland titles, performed nationally and internationally with Donal Lunny, The Kilfenora Ceili Band, Beoga, The Raparees, Ciorras, The Irish Harp Orchestra and Celtic Legends. Hermitage Green has released two top 10 albums and played a far reaching world tour.

Rory O’Connor (29), Ashbourne, Meath – Entertainer

Rory is a rising star of Irish comedy with a talent for creating funny sketches about the GAA and every day topics. He started his ‘Rory’s Stories’ blog in 2013 but quickly found a niche for his witty observations on Facebook where 210,000 followers tune in to view him as the star of his sketches. He now travels nationwide performing weekly stand-up shows to GAA clubs and recently made his TV breakthrough with his “County Final” sketch on The Republic of Telly on RTE2.

Sophie Spence (29), Lime Street, Dublin – Rugby International

Sophie (Old Belvedere/Leinster) has been  part of the Irish women’s rugby team since 2012, playing on the teams who achieved the historic 6 Nations Grand Slam in 2013 and who reached the semi-final of the 2014 World Cup where they became the first Irish rugby team to beat champions New Zealand. She was nominated as World Rugby Women’s Player of the Year in 2015. Competing in the Autumn International series and Women’s World Cup and developing her own business to provide rugby camps for girls across all four provinces are among her goals for the next 18 months.

Shane Carthy (24), Swords, Dublin – Dublin County Footballer

Dublin county football star, Shane left his family in New York and turned down a US soccer scholarship when he was 19 years old to pursue his childhood dream of winning an All-Ireland with his native Dublin.  He has won two Dublin Senior Club Championship, two Leinster titles and one All Ireland club title and has overcome homesickness, injury and being dropped to become a key figure on the Dublin team who are aiming to retain their All-Ireland Championship crown this year.

Cathal Daniels (19), Loughrea, Galway – Horse Rider

Professional horse rider Cathal is on the long list to compete at the Olympic Games in Rio.  He has already achieved gold medal success at European level as a junior rider. He stepped up to senior level last year and was part of the winning Nation’s Cup team in Beokelo and who went on to take bronze in the first event of 2016 in Fontainebleau, finishing in the top 20 individually on both occasions. His goals are to become the world’s number one rider and to win gold at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

Gearoid McDaid (19), Hazelwood, Sligo –Surfer

Gearoid started surfing aged 9 and at sixteen became the youngest ever person to win the Men’s Irish National Championship (2013). He placed fourth at the European Junior Surfing Championship and 20th in the World Junior Championships in 2014 before reclaiming the national title in 2015. He is the only Irish competitor on the European Circuit of the World Surf League and is focused on breaking into the top 200 in the World Qualifying Series in his first year and competing at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games should surfing become an Olympic sport.