School Daze: 'I am passionate about marine life' says Flossie Donnelly

Flossie Donnelly, 13, has become well known for her campaign to clean Dublin's beaches of plastic waste. She speaks to Eve Kelliher
School Daze: 'I am passionate about marine life' says Flossie Donnelly
Flossie Donnelly organises regular beach clean-ups in Dún Laoghaire.

I AM 13 and I live in Sandycove outside Dublin. I am passionate about marine life and do all I can to protect it from plastic pollution. 

I beach clean all the time and climate strike for our planet weekly. I started caring about our planet when I was eight and I started noticing the amount of horrible plastic and rubbish in the oceans and seas. 

I believe we can solve climate change if we all work together, and during these bizarre times of the virus, we have all stuck together through this so we can do the same for climate change.

My most vivid memory of school so far is the day one of the teachers in my secondary school said that out of seven people that get the coronavirus, one will die. He then related this to how many teachers there are in school and when we go back maybe all the teachers will not all be there — he was exaggerating but it was really shocking at the time.

My most vivid memory from primary school (we lived in Brussels so I started my schooling there) was being in a French school and not speaking a word of French. For secondary school, I felt very overwhelmed and confused; also this was my first time to have to wear a uniform and they are very strict about how you wear your uniform.

I was and still am a happy child. All teachers from when I was very young have always said that I see things differently to other children which can be a plus and a minus for me personally.

I was and am good at art, English, and science. I have a wild imagination so I have plenty of stories to tell and sometimes the teacher has to stop me! I struggle non-stop with maths and I am dyslexic which makes everything a challenge.

So far, the most important lesson I have learned is to confront your problems be it with friends or schoolwork, do your homework on time and teachers aren't always the enemy. Children can be unkind and it's hard to always fit in, so be true to yourself.

Flossie Donnelly hopes to become a marine biologist and work with conservation trusts.
Flossie Donnelly hopes to become a marine biologist and work with conservation trusts.

I went to two primary schools and I have two friends still from Brussels and a handful from the French school in Dublin.

The best advice I ever got was to be true to yourself, which means you never let yourself down.

Outside of school, I love to sing, dance, act and play football, I love climate striking and making up new chants and obviously I love to clean the beaches.

I have really enjoyed learning online during the lockdown, it was such a relief to ask questions without feeling embarrassed.

The teacher that influenced me most so far was Beatrice, she was my teacher for fifth class in the French school, she encouraged me not to be embarrassed to think outside the box and helped me with my dyslexia. To Beatrice I would say: “Merci, Beatrice, tu es une maîtresse extraordinaire!” 

I haven't been to a school disco yet, but I am really looking forward to going to the next one.

I started to be interested in the climate and environmentalism from the age of seven, and it is has become more intense I grow older.

What I would like to be able to say to Flossie of the future? That’s a really hard question because right now the future is so uncertain. I suppose I would say: “I hope climate change is changing for you and that you are as passionate as ever about marine life and the environment.” After I’ve finished school, I would like to go and study in Sydney and become a marine biologist and then work with conservation trusts like Gili Eco Trust on the other side of the world.

The most important thing to do in these strange times is to stay strong, stay calm and support each other. If you can then please remember that the environment and climate still need your help, so recycle, and try to live as sustainably as possible. For parents and kids, remember this won’t be forever and if you do a sustainable activity together a day you can have fun and know you're doing a great job for the planet. As well as doing sustainable activities at home, they can join a group that helps the environment. You don't have to solve the world’s problems, that's too overwhelming, just pick one thing you are passionate about and go with that, then you can achieve so much more.

  • Flossie Donnelly, 13, lives in Sandycove in Dublin. She organises regular beach clean-ups in Dún Laoghaire and has become well known for her campaign to rid Dublin beaches of plastic waste. She blogs about the environment at www.flossieandthebeachcleaners.com

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