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Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards: Champ Carl is getting in the spirit

Big hearted Frampton joins search for Northern Ireland's unsung heroes.

By Ali Gordon

Published 21/04/2016

Carl:
Carl: "So many of the stories pull at the heart strings and you can only sit back in admiration of the award winners."
Start: Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards 2016 launch with Brian O'Kane of Specsavers, Marc Mallet of UTV, last year's winner Jay Beatty, Pamela Ballentine of UTV and Sunday Life Editor Martin Breen. Pic: Mark McCormick/Sunday Life.

World champion Carl Frampton has joined the search for Northern Ireland’s unsung heroes.

The Belfast boxer, who is a Sunday Life columnist, will sit on this year’s judging panel for the Sunday Life Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards with Specsavers and will be one of the famous faces attending the gala final at the Culloden Estate and Spa on May 27.

“The Sunday Life Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards is a very special night and it brings home to everyone who the real heroes are in the country,” the 29-year-old sports star said last night.

“So many of the stories pull at the heart strings and you can only sit back in admiration of the award winners.

“Being a judge this year is great as I will get to hear the full stories behind those who have been nominated.

“I’ve no doubt it’s going to be a hard to pick out the winners of the awards.”

With just five days to go before nominations close, we are calling for you to nominate who you think is worthy of a Spirit of Northern Ireland Award, by selflessly serving others and being an inspiration to us all.

The unique Northern Ireland-wide search will give recognition to those whose good deeds have previously gone mostly unnoticed.

The finalists will be honoured at a star-studded event on Friday May 27 at the five-star Culloden Hotel in Cultra. The glittering event will again be broadcast on UTV.

Hosting the Sunday Life Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards with Specsavers this year will be UTV’s Pamela Ballantine and Marc Mallett.

As with previous years, the audience will be filled with many celebrities supporting the event and eager to hear the incredible stories behind the finalists.

TV soap and drama fans had their pick of household names at last year’s event from the likes of Emmerdale, Coronation Street, Game of Thrones and The Fall.

Mingling with the crowd were Corrie favourite ‘Big’ Jim McDonald aka actor Charlie Lawson, Emmerdale stars Gaynor Faye, Katherine Dow Blyton and John Bowe, Game of Thrones’ Kristian Nairn and The Fall stars Bronagh Waugh and Niamh McGrady.

Awards champion Carl presents last year's Young Persons Award winner Rose Doherty with her trophy alongside UTV's Julian Simmons. Pic: Kelvin Boyes/Press Eye.
Awards champion Carl presents last year's Young Persons Award winner Rose Doherty with her trophy alongside UTV's Julian Simmons. Pic: Kelvin Boyes/Press Eye.

Louis Walsh, who was one of last year’s judges on the panel, was also in attendance at the gala ceremony as was Snow Patrol’s Gary Lightbody and Nathan Connolly.

Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill and players Niall McGinn and Paddy McCourt also popped in ahead of their Euro 2016 qualifying clash with Romania.

This year’s event will again be a memorable night as we pay tribute to ordinary people who are doing extraordinary things to help others in Northern Ireland.

- You can nominate for the Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards by emailing spiritofniawards@sundaylife.co.uk or filling out the form below.

Spirit of NI Award categories

Unsung Hero

Someone whose great deed or deeds have previously gone unnoticed, but who will have made a major contribution to your life or to your community.

Overcoming Adversity

Someone who has overcome huge personal challenges, whether it is dealing with illness or disability or overcoming problems.

Spirit of Youth

Someone under the age of 18 who should be recognised for their special achievements.

999 Hero

A member of the emergency services who has gone above and beyond the call of duty in their job.

Charity Champion

Someone who has worked tirelessly for a charity or as a fundraiser for many years.

Spirit of Health

A medical professional who has gone the extra mile to improve the health and wellbeing of their patients.

Spirit of Education

This award recognises a truly inspirational teacher who has helped children and young people to fulfil their potential.

Caring Spirit Award

A person, young or old, who has dedicated their time to caring for a friend or family member.

Spirit of Sport

Someone who has made an exceptional contribution to local sport over a number of years. 

Overall Spirit of Northern Ireland Award

Someone who the judges feel best represents the Spirit of Northern Ireland by selflessly serving others and being an inspiration to us all.

 - There are 10 awards in total. You can nominate an unsung hero via the form on this page, which will be available in Specsavers stores, or email your nomination to spiritofniawards@sundaylife.co.uk. Closing date for nominations is Friday April 22.

>> Click here to download the entry form <<

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