It was a day for the girls last week as Ards honoured five of its constituents for their inspiring successes both in their local communities and for some, on an international scale.
The fourth annual Women of Achievement award ceremony formed part of Ards Borough Council’s International Women’s Day celebrations.
Seventeen year old Nicolle Smith from Newtownards was one of the winners of the day, being recognised for her commitment to sport following her athletic successes in Ireland and Europe winning golds and silvers — Nicolle will be participating in the Special World Olympics in Athens later in the year.
Winning medal after medal on a world stage, the former pupil of Killard House School in Donaghadee, is humble about this latest accolade.
Nicolle told the Community Telegraph: “I get embarrassed when people call me a role model and don’t know what to say. I look up to my athletic coaches Nicky and Pauline and don’t think about myself in that way.”
Her mum Georgie, said: “She is very humble and doesn’t yet realise her potential and how much she inspires others. We are all so very proud of her. When she’s focused she is really focused — it’s a gift she has to work to the best of her ability and we as a family have encouraged that. From a little girl we knew Nicolle had that gift. She is recognised as an elite athlete and trains very hard to be the best, visiting Dublin once a month and training every week in Bangor. She really inspires us all.”
Pharmacist Alana Millar from Newtownards was recognised for her dedication to the people of Millisle after securing funding for relaxation classes for women, particularly those who are carers. She was also closely involved in starting a weekly women’s group offering activities such as self defence, sign language and beauty therapy.
Paying tribute to all the winners, Councillor Naomi Armstrong-Cotter, Ards Borough Council’s ‘Women’s Champion’, said: “These awards are intended not only to recognise local women, but to inspire and encourage others. Our five award recipients do exactly that.
“Each of their individual stories is remarkable, but collectively they demonstrate beyond a shadow of a doubt the significance and value of women’s contributions to our society and their significance. I can’t imagine any better way to mark the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day,” she added.
Other winners were Portavogie midwife Joyce Coffey who established the village’s Health Promotion Class; June Braniff from Portaferry for her ‘tireless campaign work’ to retain mental health services in Ards Hospital ; and 17-year-old Holly Beattie from Lisbarnett for her courage in dealing with mouth cancer.