Woman Of The Year 2014 - Inspirational: Una Crudden and Margaret McGuckin shine in face of adversity

Inspirational Woman of the Year Margaret McGuckin, centre, with Gemma Bell, Diageo, and Wendy Austin, left
Inspirational Woman of the Year Margaret McGuckin, centre, with Gemma Bell, Diageo, and Wendy Austin, left
Overall Belfast Telegraph Woman of the Year winner Una Crudden
Overall Belfast Telegraph Woman of the Year winner Una Crudden
Deputy Editor Gail Walker addresses the Woman of the Year gala dinner
Guests listen as Deputy Editor Gail Walker opens the proceedings
Overall Belfast Telegraph Woman of the Year winner Una Crudden with her daughter Lisa McGarry
Overall Belfast Telegraph Woman of the Year winner: Una Crudden with her husband Felix
Overall Belfast Telegraph Woman of the Year winner: Una Crudden (second from right) with sponsor Siobhan McKeown and Chris Nelmes from The OUTLET and Belfast Telegraph editor Mike Gilson
Inspirational Woman of the Year Margaret McGuckin
Belfast Telegraph Woman of the Year in Hair, Beauty and Fashion. Winner: Leisa Stafford (left)
Belfast Telegraph Woman of the Year in Education. Winner: Mary Roulston (left)
Belfast Telegraph Woman of the Year in the Voluntary Sector. Winner: Rachel Smith (centre)
Belfast Telegraph Businesswoman of the Year winner: Claire Hunter (left)
Belfast Telegraph Woman of the Year in the Arts. Winner: Sinead Morrissey (left)
Woman of the Year in the Health Sector. Winner: Dr Madeleine Rooney (left)
Belfast Telegraph Mum of the Year winner: Catherine McFerran (left) at the Belfast Telegraph Woman of the Year Awards in Association with THE OUTLET, Banbridge at the Ramada Hotel in Belfast
Belfast Telegraph Sportswoman of the Year winner: Ulster players of the Ireland Women's Rugby - Rosie Baxter, left, mother of Ashleigh Baxter collects award on behalf of the girls. Presented by: Squadron Leader Jacs Rankin, Executive Officer on 502 (Ulster) Squadron, RAF Reserves.
Richard Kane and Leona Kane at Belfast Telegraph Woman of the Year Awards in Association with THE OUTLET, Banbridge at the Ramada Hotel in Belfast
Lisa and Glen McLarnon at Belfast Telegraph Woman of the Year Awards in Association with THE OUTLET, Banbridge at the Ramada Hotel in Belfast
Alison and Will Abernethy at Belfast Telegraph Woman of the Year Awards in Association with THE OUTLET, Banbridge at the Ramada Hotel in Belfast
Belfast Telegraph's editor Mike Gilson, Jan Jack and Siobhan McKeown at Belfast Telegraph Woman of the Year Awards in Association with THE OUTLET, Banbridge at the Ramada Hotel in Belfast
Katie McKernan and Paul Stafford at Belfast Telegraph Woman of the Year Awards in Association with THE OUTLET, Banbridge at the Ramada Hotel in Belfast
Diane Baxter, Rosie Baxter and Hazel Whan at Belfast Telegraph Woman of the Year Awards in Association with THE OUTLET, Banbridge at the Ramada Hotel in Belfast
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th February 2014 - Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye. Belfast Telegraph Woman of the Year Awards in Association with THE OUTLET, Banbridge at the Ramada Hotel in Belfast. Siobhan McKeown, Sarah Weir and Karen McGarvey
Siobhan McKeown, Sarah Weir and Karen McGarvey at Belfast Telegraph Woman of the Year Awards in Association with THE OUTLET, Banbridge at the Ramada Hotel in Belfast
Kate Thompson, John Miskelly and Victoria Carrigan at Belfast Telegraph Woman of the Year Awards in Association with THE OUTLET, Banbridge at the Ramada Hotel in Belfast
Joanne Dobson and Chris Nelmes at Belfast Telegraph Woman of the Year Awards in Association with THE OUTLET, Banbridge at the Ramada Hotel in Belfast
Kathy O'Neill and Joanne Magee at Belfast Telegraph Woman of the Year Awards in Association with THE OUTLET, Banbridge at the Ramada Hotel in Belfast
Katie Richardson and Holly Anne Lowden at Belfast Telegraph Woman of the Year Awards in Association with THE OUTLET, Banbridge at the Ramada Hotel in Belfast.
Joanne Uprichard, Irene Fitzsimons, Karen McGarvey, Pauline Moore and Sarah Little at Belfast Telegraph Woman of the Year Awards in Association with THE OUTLET, Banbridge at the Ramada Hotel in Belfast
Cara Gribben, Emma Gribben and Sarah Gribben at Belfast Telegraph Woman of the Year Awards in Association with THE OUTLET, Banbridge at the Ramada Hotel in Belfast
Cara Gribben, Maria Burke, Sharon Barrett, Emma Gribben and Sarah Gribben at Belfast Telegraph Woman of the Year Awards in Association with THE OUTLET, Banbridge at the Ramada Hotel in Belfast
Elaine Waterworth, Chris Nelmes, Oonagh Haughian and Meilynn Cheung at Belfast Telegraph Woman of the Year Awards in Association with THE OUTLET, Banbridge at the Ramada Hotel in Belfast
Mary and Norman Adams at Belfast Telegraph Woman of the Year Awards in Association with THE OUTLET, Banbridge at the Ramada Hotel in Belfast
Alison and Will Abernethy at Belfast Telegraph Woman of the Year Awards in Association with THE OUTLET, Banbridge at the Ramada Hotel in Belfast.
Noella McConnell Logue and Conor McCafferty at the Belfast Telegraph Woman of the Year Awards in Association with THE OUTLET, Banbridge at the Ramada Hotel in Belfast
Tracy and Joe Donnelly at the Belfast Telegraph Woman of the Year Awards in Association with THE OUTLET, Banbridge at the Ramada Hotel in Belfast
Belfast Telegraph Woman of the Year in Education winner: Mary Roulston. Presented by D Sarah Little, Commercial Director, Belfast Telegraph
Ramada Hotel staff at the Belfast Telegraph Woman of the Year Awards in Association with THE OUTLET, Banbridge at the Ramada Hotel in Belfast.
Gemma Bell and Karen Laverty at Belfast Telegraph Woman of the Year Awards in Association with THE OUTLET, Banbridge at the Ramada Hotel in Belfast.
Shauna Ross and Francine Gormley at the Belfast Telegraph Woman of the Year Awards in Association with THE OUTLET, Banbridge at the Ramada Hotel in Belfast.
Violet Malcolmson and Karen Gamble at the Belfast Telegraph Woman of the Year Awards in Association with THE OUTLET, Banbridge at the Ramada Hotel in Belfast. Guests from Diageo. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Melissa McCready - Shaw and Olivia Mehaffey at the Belfast Telegraph Woman of the Year Awards in Association with THE OUTLET, Banbridge at the Ramada Hotel in Belfast. Guests from Diageo. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Eugene and Gerardine Kielt at the Belfast Telegraph Woman of the Year Awards in Association with THE OUTLET, Banbridge at the Ramada Hotel in Belfast. Guests from Diageo. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Belfast Telegraph Woman of the Year Awards in Association with THE OUTLET, Banbridge at the Ramada Hotel in Belfast. Guests from Diageo. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

It was tragic circumstances which thrust both Margaret McGuckin and Una Crudden into the public eye. But with courage and determination, the selfless actions of both women have made a huge difference to the lives of others.

Victims’ campaigner Margaret and ovarian cancer campaigner Una were given rousing cheers as they stepped onto |the stage at our gala awards ceremony| to jointly pick up the Inspirational Woman of the Year Award sponsored by Baileys Luxe.

Based on her experiences as a young child in care, Margaret co-founded Savia, which acts as a voice for the needs and demands of survivors of institutional abuse.

Her campaign for justice for the many children — now adults — who suffered physical, sexual, mental and emotional abuse in homes throughout Northern Ireland has led to the establishment of the public inquiry which is currently underway into institutional childhood abuse.

Due to a difficult start in life, separated from her family and abused in a children’s home, Margaret did not benefit much from education.

But she has more than compensated for this thanks to her personal qualities of courage and her can-do spirit.

Her success has been based on deep commitment, determination, a sympathetic ear for other victims, an instinct for seeking out allies and understanding the essentials of a campaign.

She has overcome her personal fears to challenge those in authority and in doing so has inspired hundreds of other victims of childhood abuse to come forward and tell their stories too.

Thanks to Margaret (57), victims will no longer have to bear their burden alone.

This modest mum-of-three from Belfast, who is regarded by the many abuse victims she has helped as their guardian angel, was overwhelmed to pick up our award.

She said: “I’m really amazed. I don’t see myself in that way. I just plod on every day and it’s unbelievable to me that I have been honoured in this way.”

Securing the inquiry has motivated Margaret to work even harder to support victims.

She said: “Hearing the horror stories which are so shocking has made me more determined than ever to see this to the end.

“All those days standing in the street persuading people to sign the petition and travelling here and there for meetings have been so worthwhile.

“Even though these people are now adults, in many ways they are still like wee lost children.

“I know what it is like not to be cared for and I don’t want anyone ever to have to feel like that. I’m always on the end of the phone and it’s as if all the victims are my family now.”

Our other inspirational winner Una Crudden (59) describes herself as “an ordinary granny from west Belfast” — but faced with adversity she has achieved the extraordinary.

After being misdiagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome, Una faced the devastation of being told she was terminally ill with ovarian cancer in December 2009 and was given between three and five years to live. Of five women diagnosed together, all of them had initially been misdiagnosed |with IBS and all except Una have since died.

Such senseless loss of life, which could have been prevented through education of the symptoms of the disease known as ‘The Silent Killer’, compelled Una to launch a campaign to raise awareness.

For Una it meant overcoming a natural shyness to address women’s groups, councillors and eventually politicians in her bid to create awareness.

Una cried tears of joy last year as she sat in the debating chamber in Stormont as the Health Committee agreed to fund a public awareness campaign.

Thanks to her efforts this week the Public Health Agency will be sending new guidelines for ovarian cancer diagnosis to all GPs in Northern Ireland.

Una continues to put all her energies into tirelessly campaigning to keep the issue in the headlines as well as fundraising for the Northern Ireland Hospice, for which she has raised an incredible £43,5000.

Una, too, was stunned to win our award. She said: “I’m just so shocked. Everyone in that room was a champion and I’m absolutely thrilled to get this award.”

‘I know what it is like not to be cared for and I don’t want anyone ever to have to feel like that. I’m always on the end of the phone and it’s as if all the victims are my family now’

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