Brian O’Kane, NI Chair of Specsavers in Northern Ireland and store director at Magherafelt and Cookstown celebrated a wonderful evening in June to celebrate local unsung heroes at this year’s Sunday Life Spirit of NI Awards supported by Specsavers.
Winners spanned ten categories and included Cara McCartan aged 7 who supports her deaf parents and picked up the Spirit of Youth award whilst the education award went to former vice-principal Gordon Cameron who volunteers with the Belfast Giants.
Sean McLaughlin’s actions to save his elderly neighbours following a fire were recognised with the Unsung Hero award and the Overall Spirit of NI Award went to Portrush man Willie Gregg who has raised over £1/4 million for those who suffered following the 2004 tsunami and has flown to Thailand to give practical help and work voluntarily alongside several charities.
The Overcoming Adversity Award was received by Andrea McAleese who set up a community based Angel of Hope garden in Coleraine after the tragic death of her young daughter.
Omagh fire man Terry Canning won the Spirit of Sport trophy and 999 Hero was awarded to police officer Mark Wright who saved a woman and her children and his colleague following a knife attack.
This year’s Charity Champion was presented to Aidan Crawford who has secured aid for Syrian refugee camps through the Society of St Vincent de Paul and Strabane lady Mary McAuley who has devoted her life to providing children with a loving and happy home through adoption and foster care took the Caring Spirit award.
Children’s community nurse Rosie Mulholland goes above and beyond for the children she supports and cares for, despite facing challenges in her own life. Rosie won the Spirit of Health Award.
Celebrities lend support
Well-known faces who attended the gala awards included veteran broadcaster Eamonn Holmes, soap star Lucy Fallon (Bethany, Coronation Street) along with Emmerdale actors Dominic Brunt, Gaynor Faye, Michelle Hardwick, Liam Fox – otherwise known as Paddy, Megan, Vanessa and Dan.
Over 350 people including the 10 remarkable winners and their families attended the star-studded bash at the Culloden Hotel which was hosted by UTV presenters Marc Mallett and Pamela Ballantine.