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  • Northside East

Debbie receives top honour from Putin

Tuesday, 13th November, 2018 8:00am
Debbie receives top honour from Putin

Debbie Deegan with Vladamir Putin.

Debbie receives top honour from Putin

Debbie Deegan with Vladamir Putin.

A NORTHSIDE woman has received one of the highest honours ever awarded to an Irish citizen by Russia.

In 1998, Debbie Deegan, from Clontarf, founded ‘To Children With Love’, formally known as ‘To Russia With Love’.

Over the last two decades the charity has dramatically changed the lives of thousands of abandoned and orphaned children in one of Russia’s most desolate regions.

Debbie spearheaded the work of the charity ensuring that the children under their wings of love received education, healthcare and a safe ‘home’ environment.

Last Sunday week (November 4), Debbie received an Order of Friendship State Award from Russia after being personally selected by Vladimir Putin for the honour. She travelled to Russia to receive the award, just days after her own daughter Sophie married in Connemara. 

The award acknowledges the vital role Debbie has played in strengthening friendship and co-operation between both nations. 

The Order of Friendship State award is intended to mutually enrich the relationships between the nations of the recipients.

Speaking after receiving the award, Debbie told Northside People: “It is difficult to try and impart the impact that Irish people made when they chose to support a charity like ours who worked abroad. 

“To us, it never mattered that our children were in Russia because there is just one place they lived and that is in our hearts. 

“The reality is, they depended on the generosity of the Irish people and the firm friendships we made with Russia over the years to make the positive impact we needed to make happen, happen.

“We committed ourselves to helping children who don’t have parents and that’s all we do. We’re not political; we’re not religious. It’s always worked for us that way.

“Our legacy will live on for many generations and while so much has improved from a social and economic perspective in Russia over recent years, we will always have a part of our hearts there.” Debbie said her charity has met many wonderful Russian people throughout its 20-year history and those relationships will remain unwavering. 

“It is the highest honour for our small charity to be recognised on such a scale,” she added. 

Debbie’s charity has transformed the lives of thousands of abandoned and orphaned Russian children, with the help of many local administrations. 

Of the 5,264 children supported over 20 years by Irish people, 77 per cent have integrated successfully into society.

In 2016, ‘To Russia With Love’ decided to expand its programmes to Ireland, which is how ‘To Children With Love’ was born. 

The charity works to build brighter futures for Irish students affected by social divide and educational inequality. 

The goal of the programmes is to support young people to achieve their full potential in education, employment and life.

For more information on the charity, visit


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