Inspirational, brave, accomplished and selfless — these were just some of the many special qualities of the finalists and winners who were the toast of the 2014 Belfast Telegraph Women of the Year Awards.
Belfast’s Ramada Hotel at Shaw’s Bridge once again played host to the glittering annual gala event which celebrates the very best ladies in our society.
In what was an uplifting and often emotional event, more than 300 women enjoyed a four-course meal, followed by entertainment before hearing the awe-inspiring stories of this year’s contenders.
A record number of entries this year — nearly 300 — made the job of the judges tougher than ever.
The exceptional lady who picked up the overall 2014 Belfast Telegraph Woman of the Year Award in association with the Outlet at Banbridge was Una Crudden.
A visibly stunned Una, who was accompanied to the dinner by husband Felix and her daughter Lisa McGarry, walked to the stage amid a standing ovation to collect her award.
The tireless campaigner, who describes herself as “just an ordinary granny from west Belfast”, immediately dedicated her award to all the women who like herself have ovarian cancer and to those who have died because they were not diagnosed in time.
Unable to control her tears as she chatted to awards host Wendy Austin, Una once again spoke passionately about the need to promote awareness of this killer disease.
She also said that she was thrilled by her award: “I’m just so shocked. Everyone in that room was a champion and I’m absolutely thrilled to get this award.”
Una (59), a mum-of-five with six grandchildren, has saved countless lives already through her actions and is hoping to save many more for generations to come by trying to persuade the Government to launch an ovarian awareness campaign.
Tragically, it’s too late for Una who now has terminal ovarian cancer but while her days are sadly numbered this amazing woman has put her heart and soul into ensuring other women will not face the same diagnosis.
This week, in what is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, Una was again ensuring the issue remains at the forefront of Government, hosting the first ever awareness event at Stormont and persuading Belfast City Council to light up City Hall in the colour teal —the colour that represents the awareness month.
In total 11 winners were announced across our 10 categories, chosen from a shortlist representing women of all ages and every walk of life.
With Wendy as host, guests were entertained by stand-up comedienne Jan Jack and the Sing for Life choir which was put together by Cancer Focus Northern Ireland and the Crescent Arts Centre.
Belfast Telegraph Editor Mike Gilson said: “We enjoyed yet another remarkable night at the Women of the Year Awards.
“It is an occasion that never ceases to amaze me, with so many examples of inspirational, determined and high-achieving women.
“Congratulations to all our winners and nominees. You are in truly phenomenal company.
“Una Crudden is a worthy overall winner with her selfless determination to raise awareness of ovarian cancer when going through so much herself.”
Siobhan McKeown, marketing manager for The Outlet, Banbridge, said: “Thank you to the Belfast Telegraph for hosting such a rewarding and outstanding event.
“It is important to acknowledge the fact that ordinary women can achieve amazing results.
“The Outlet, Banbridge is proud to be associated with the Woman of the Year Awards.”