In Pictures: Sunday Life Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards night

Remarkable individuals honoured for their exceptional achievements

Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards at the Ramada Hotel, Belfastt : Tara O'Dornan, Merily McGivern and Kaz Lynas
Paul McGarrity with Janice and Richard Barr
Tara O'Dornan, Merily McGivern and Kaz Lynas

Everyone's a winner in the eyes of the audience at the Sunday Life Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards with Specsavers.

Our 15 fantastic finalists epitomise the true grit, courage and talent of the ordinary folk doing extraordinary things in communities across Northern Ireland.

Our celebrity guests and audience raised the roof with cheers and applause for all of the contestants in the three award categories.

Here are the stars in the UTV/U105.8FM Young Persons, Specsavers Overcoming Adversity and Sunday Life Unsung Hero categories who made our gala awards a special night to remember.

1. Dr Dickie and Janice Barr — parents of overall Spirit of Northern Ireland Award winner, Charlene Barr accept the top trophy and bouquet of flowers from Sunday Life editor Martin Breen and Specsavers NI chairman, Tony McGinn.

The loving legacy of Charlene’s fundraising work lives on with the opening of a £120,000 school and water well development in Uganda.

2. Nicknamed the ‘Sunshine Boy’ by his mum, Jane, 12-year-old Paul Russell is delighted to win the UTV/U105.8FM Young Persons Award.

Sports and music loving Paul, who plays piano, while living with the rare genetic condition, Apert Syndrome, is pictured with (L-R) mum Jane, singer-actress Niamh Perry and UTV presenter Julian Simmons.

3. Former soldier, turned globe-trotting basketball and tennis champ, Jason Black won the Specsavers Overcoming Adversity Award. He is pictured with singing trio, The Priests and Tony McGinn.

4. UTV Young Persons Award finalist, Dempsey Andrews who has won countless ice skating medals shares a smile with UTV’s Julian Simmons after receiving her finalist award.

5. North Belfast teenager Shona Cosgrove, who is a champion hip-hop dancer in spite of a hip bone operation and other health problems, receives her Young Persons finalist award from Julian Simmons.

6. Saintfield girl Bronagh Mullan who took care of her seriously-ill mum while still at school also received her Young Persons finalist award from UTV star Julian Simmons.

7. County Fermanagh breast and brain cancer-survivor Beulah Irvine — pictured with her Specsavers Overcoming Adversity finalist award.

8. North Belfast man and boss of suicide prevention training group, PIPS Programmes, Philip McTaggart is presented with his Specsavers Overcoming Adversity finalist award by UTV’s Pamela Ballantine and Tony McGinn.

9. Carrickfergus woman Nicola Porter who is actively involved in cancer support, youth and church groups after losing her right leg to a bone tumour is a worthy recipient of a Specsavers Overcoming Adversity finalist award which was presented by singing star Peter Corry.

10. The driving force behind Action MS, Ann Walker is recognised for her 36-year long devotion to others, with a Specsavers Overcoming Adversity finalist award.

11. John Cassidy’s lifelong dedication to youth soccer — co-founding the Milk Cup — is recognised with a Sunday Life Unsung Hero finalist award.

12. Specialist children’s renal nurse Hazel Gibson, manager of the Belfast kids’ team at this summer’s British Transplant Games, with her Sunday Life Unsung Hero finalist award.

13. Gillian McFadden who runs the Doghouse Sanctuary in Banbridge is honoured with a finalist award in the Unsung Hero category.

14. Gary McLaughlin who works as an outreach counsellor with the Zest organisation, is another Sunday Life Unsung Hero finalist award winner.

15. Unsung Hero finalist, artist Raymond Watson is honoured for his Belfast Flags Of Hope project.

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