Royal approval: Limerick student explains homeless invention to Prince Charles

Norma Prendiville


Norma Prendiville

Emily Duffy, pictured with her sleeping bag for the homeless on a previous occasion, which she discussed with Prince Charles on his visit to UCC

Emily Duffy, pictured with her sleeping bag for the homeless on a previous occasion, which she discussed with Prince Charles on his visit to UCC

HE didn’t quite give it the royal seal of approval but Prince Charles gave a very positive response to the Duffily bag, the sleeping bag for the homeless which was devised by Knockaderry student and All-Ireland Youth Volunteer 2017 Emily Duffy.

Emily met Prince Charles on Thursday when he visited UCC and where she, along with other high-achieving and talented students such as disability advocate Joanne O’Riordan, had been invited to meet him. 

“He was very pleasant and engaging,” Emily told the Limerick Leader.

The exchange, originally timed at two minutes, lasted more than twice as long as Prince Charles asked her detailed questions about the Duffily bag which she first entered into the BT Young Scientist and Technology competition in 2015.

Since then, Emily has worked with homeless charity, Mendicity and the bag has gone into production, manufactured by homeless people.

“I had my stand with the Duffily bag,” said Emily, explaining about yesterday’s event in UCC, where she met the prince. 

“I gave him my pitch, where the idea came from, what I am doing now. He was extremely engaged with it and was full of questions. He was very interested that I was 15 years old when I started doing this and said it was great to see someone so young doing something for the benefit of other. He was very complimentary about it as well,” Emily explained. 

The prince, she added, was also interested in her work with Mendicity in involving homeless people in making the sleeping bags. 

“There was a great welcome for him in UCC,” Emily said.

The president and the heads of all the colleges were there and college vice-president Prof John O’Halloran who heads up the college’s Quercus Talented Students programme introduced Emily to the prince as a member of the programme and as somebody who knows her work. 

She didn’t get to meet Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall however.

“She was at a different event,” explained Emily.  

Since the 2015 Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition when she was a student at Desmond College, Newcastle West, Emily has gone on to become joint winner of the Spirit of Community Awards becoming an All Ireland Youth Volunteer of the Year.

She was also honoured at the international Spirit of Community Awards in the US last year where she met Olympian swimming champion, Michael Phelps. 

Emily, the daughter of Margaret and Coleman Duffy of Knockaderry, outside Newcastle West, has just completed her first year as a commerce student at UCC. There she is a member of the Enactus social entrepreneurs society and is currently doing a summer internship with KBC bank in Dublin.

“They have a great programme for sustainability and trying to increase their social impact,” she said.

“So far it has been amazing and much nicer and more relaxed than I thought a bank would be.”