Belfast Telegraph

Stars shine in night of magic at Sunday Life Spirit of NI Awards 2018

Watch the awards on this Tuesday in a one-hour special at 8pm

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 20th April 2018 - Ian McElhinney and Jamie-Lee O'Donnell with fans at the 2018 Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards
Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 20th April 2018 - Ian McElhinney and Jamie-Lee O'Donnell with fans at the 2018 Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 20th April 2018 - Charlene O'Donnell, Jamie-Lee O'Donnell and Kevina Saunders pictured at the 2018 Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Alex McMahon from Newry was given an award for Special Recognition by the judges of the Spirit of Northern Ireland awards. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 20th April 2018 - Jamie-Lee O'Donnell at the 2018 Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Spirit of Northern Ireland 2018. Martin Breen with James Burrows and Ryan Clayton from Coronation Street
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 20th April 2018 - 2018 Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards SPIRIT OF EDUCATION Winners of the Spirit of Education award, the Buddy Up! team collect their trophy from Tim McGarry, his co-star, Damon Quinn and Sofra Frost from category sponsor Studyseed. Also pictured are ambassadors from title sponsor Specsavers, Nicola and Alison Crimmins. The team was one of ten winners at the Sunday Life Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards with Specsavers. (from left to right) Cushla Mallon, Nuala Gallagher, Nancy McGrath and Lisa Dietrich accept the award for Buddy Up Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 20th April 2018 - 2018 Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards SPIRIT OF EDUCATION Winners of the Spirit of Education award, the Buddy Up! team collect their trophy from Tim McGarry, his co-star, Damon Quinn and Sofra Frost from category sponsor Studyseed. Also pictured are ambassadors from title sponsor Specsavers, Nicola and Alison Crimmins. The team was one of ten winners at the Sunday Life Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards with Specsavers. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 20th April 2018 - Vivienne Devenny, Jenevieve Devenny and Sarah Devenny at the 2018 Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 20th April 2018 - 2018 Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards CHARITY CHAMPION Fiona Simpson from Limavady was named Charity Champion at the Sunday Life Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards. Presenting Fiona with her award is Jon Noonan from category sponsor, Best Parties Ever, along with Q Radio's Cate Conway and former Coronation St. actor, Charlie Lawson. Also pictured are ambassadors from title sponsor Specsavers, Nicola and Alison Crimmins. Fiona was one of ten winners on the night which was held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Belfast. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Louis Walsh and fans at the 2018 Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards - Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 20th April 2018 - Ian McElhinney and Jamie-Lee O'Donnell at the 2018 Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 20th April 2018 - 2018 Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 20th April 2018 - Louis Walsh and fans at the 2018 Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 20th April 2018 - 2018 Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards Special Recognition Alex McMahon from Newry was given an award for Special Recognition by the judges of the Spirit of Northern Ireland awards. Alex receives his award from X Factor judge Louis Walsh and members of the judging panel, Tony McGinn from Specsavers and Editor of the Sunday Life, Martin Breen. Alex was one of ten winners one the night which was held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel and selected for the help he gives to his mum in looking after his younger siblings. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 20th April 2018 - 2018 Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards Special Recognition Alex McMahon from Newry was given an award for Special Recognition by the judges of the Spirit of Northern Ireland awards. Alex receives his award from X Factor judge Louis Walsh and members of the judging panel, Tony McGinn from Specsavers and Editor of the Sunday Life, Martin Breen. Alex was one of ten winners one the night which was held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel and selected for the help he gives to his mum in looking after his younger siblings. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 20th April 2018 - 2018 Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards UNSUNG HERO Winner of the Unsung Hero award, is the Shankill based group, Community First. The team of volunteers collect their award from Coronations Street star, Ryan Clayton and James Burrows and Caroline Rafferty from category sponsor, Homecare Independent Living. Also pictured are ambassadors from title sponsor Specsavers, Nicola and Alison Crimmins. Community First was one of ten winners at the Sunday Life Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards with Specsavers. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 20th April 2018 - 2018 Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards Special Recognition Alex McMahon from Newry was given an award for Special Recognition by the judges of the Spirit of Northern Ireland awards. Alex receives his award from X Factor judge Louis Walsh and members of the judging panel, Tony McGinn from Specsavers and Editor of the Sunday Life, Martin Breen. Alex was one of ten winners one the night which was held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel and selected for the help he gives to his mum in looking after his younger siblings. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 20th April 2018 - Marc Mallett with Coronations Street star, Ryan Clayton and James Burrows at the 2018 Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 20th April 2018 - Marc Mallett with Louis Walsh at the 2018 Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 20th April 2018 - Carmel Milne is the one holding the award wth Sinead Hutchinson in red dress 2018 Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards SPIRIT OF HEALTH Winners of the Spirit of Health award, the Eating Disorder Team from CAMHS at Antrim Area Hospital collect their award from Aideen Duggan, from category sponsor Keenan Healthcare and Gaynor Faye. Also pictured are ambassadors from title sponsor Specsavers, Nicola and Alison Crimmins. The Eating Disorder Team was one of ten winners at the Sunday Life Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards with Specsavers. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Winner of the Overcoming Adversity award, Peter Dolan from Omagh, is presented with his trophy by Jill Campbell, Specsavers Northern Ireland, boxer Paddy Barnes and Dominic Burnt from Emmerdale. Also pictured are ambassadors from title sponsor Specsavers, Nicola and Alison Crimmins. Peter was one of ten winners at the Sunday Life Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards with Specsavers. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 20th April 2018 - Carmel Milne is the one holding the award wth Sinead Hutchinson in red dress 2018 Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards SPIRIT OF HEALTH Winners of the Spirit of Health award, the Eating Disorder Team from CAMHS at Antrim Area Hospital collect their award from Aideen Duggan, from category sponsor Keenan Healthcare and Gaynor Faye. Also pictured are ambassadors from title sponsor Specsavers, Nicola and Alison Crimmins. The Eating Disorder Team was one of ten winners at the Sunday Life Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards with Specsavers. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 20th April 2018 - 2018 Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards OVERCOMING ADVERSITY Winner of the Overcoming Adversity award, Peter Dolan from Omagh, is presented with his trophy by Jill Campbell, Specsavers Northern Ireland, boxer Paddy Barnes and Dominic Burnt from Emmerdale. Also pictured are ambassadors from title sponsor Specsavers, Nicola and Alison Crimmins. Peter was one of ten winners at the Sunday Life Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards with Specsavers. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 20th April 2018 - 2018 Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards OVERCOMING ADVERSITY Winner of the Overcoming Adversity award, Peter Dolan from Omagh, is presented with his trophy by Jill Campbell, Specsavers Northern Ireland, boxer Paddy Barnes and Dominic Burnt from Emmerdale. Also pictured are ambassadors from title sponsor Specsavers, Nicola and Alison Crimmins. Peter was one of ten winners at the Sunday Life Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards with Specsavers. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 20th April 2018 - 2018 Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards SPIRIT OF YOUTH Winner of the Spirit of Youth award, Emily Magee, age 8 from Co. Fermanagh, is presented with her trophy by Eamonn McFadden, from category sponsor Harvey Norman and 'Derry Girl' Jamie Lee O'Donnell. Also pictured are ambassadors from title sponsor Specsavers, Nicola and Alison Crimmins. Emily was one of ten winners at the Sunday Life Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards with Specsavers. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 20th April 2018 - 2018 Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 20th April 2018 - 2018 Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards OVERCOMING ADVERSITY Winner of the Overcoming Adversity award, Peter Dolan from Omagh, is presented with his trophy by Jill Campbell, Specsavers Northern Ireland, boxer Paddy Barnes and Dominic Burnt from Emmerdale. Also pictured are ambassadors from title sponsor Specsavers, Nicola and Alison Crimmins. Peter was one of ten winners at the Sunday Life Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards with Specsavers. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 20th April 2018 - Marc Mallett and Jamie-Lee O'Donnell at the 2018 Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 20th April 2018 - 2018 Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards Receiving the award for Caring Spirit on behalf of her and her husband Alistair, is Pearl Brown from Warrenpoint. Pearl was presented with her trophy from actor Ian McElhinney and Gemma Louise Bond from category sponsor, Power NI. Also pictured are ambassadors from title sponsor Specsavers, Nicola and Alison Crimmins. The Browns were one of ten winners at the Sunday Life Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards with Specsavers. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 20th April 2018 - 2018 Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Sunday Life. Spirit of northern Ireland Awards 2018 Ian McElhinney – Derry Girls and Game of Thrones and wife Marie Jones. Picture Colm O'Reilly Sunday Life
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 20th April 2018 - 2018 Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards Receiving the award for Caring Spirit on behalf of her and her husband Alistair, is Pearl Brown from Warrenpoint. Pearl was presented with her trophy from actor Ian McElhinney and Gemma Louise Bond from category sponsor, Power NI. Also pictured are ambassadors from title sponsor Specsavers, Nicola and Alison Crimmins. The Browns were one of ten winners at the Sunday Life Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards with Specsavers. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Sunday Life. Spirit of northern Ireland Awards 2018 Jamie-Lee O’Donnell from Derry Girls Picture Colm O'Reilly Sunday Life
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 20th April 2018 - 2018 Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards Receiving the award for Caring Spirit on behalf of her and her husband Alistair, is Pearl Brown from Warrenpoint. Pearl was presented with her trophy from actor Ian McElhinney and Gemma Louise Bond from category sponsor, Power NI. Also pictured are ambassadors from title sponsor Specsavers, Nicola and Alison Crimmins. The Browns were one of ten winners at the Sunday Life Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards with Specsavers. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Sunday Life. Spirit of northern Ireland Awards 2018. Ryan Burnett and Lara Milner Picture Colm O'Reilly Sunday Life
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 20th April 2018 - Marc Mallett with actor Ian McElhinney at the 2018 Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Sunday Life. Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards 2018 Dominic Brunt from Emmerdale, Gaynor Faye from Emmerdale Picture Colm O'Reilly Sunday Life
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 20th April 2018 - 2018 Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards 999 HERO Fire-fighter Noel McKee was named 999 Hero at the Sunday Life Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards. Presenting Noel with his trophy are stars of The Fall, Bronagh Waugh and Niamh McGrady along with Ciara Daly who sponsored the category. Also pictured are ambassadors from title sponsor Specsavers, Nicola and Alison Crimmins. Mark was one of ten winners on the night which was held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 20th April 2018 - 2018 Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards 999 HERO Fire-fighter Noel McKee was named 999 Hero at the Sunday Life Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards. Presenting Noel with his trophy are stars of The Fall, Bronagh Waugh and Niamh McGrady along with Ciara Daly who sponsored the category. Also pictured are ambassadors from title sponsor Specsavers, Nicola and Alison Crimmins. Mark was one of ten winners on the night which was held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Sunday Life. Spirit of northern Ireland Awards 2018 Picture Colm O'Reilly Sunday Life
Sunday Life. Spirit of northern Ireland Awards 2018. Louis Walsh Picture Colm O'Reilly Sunday Life
Sunday Life. Spirit of northern Ireland Awards 2018 Ciara Daly makeup with Niamh McGrady and Bronagh Waugh from The Fall Picture Colm O'Reilly Sunday Life
Sunday Life. Spirit of northern Ireland Awards 2018. Ryan Burnett and Lara Milner Picture Colm O'Reilly Sunday Life
Sunday Life. Spirit of northern Ireland Awards 2018 Ian McElhinney – Derry Girls and Game of Thrones Picture Colm O'Reilly Sunday Life
Sunday Life. Spirit of northern Ireland Awards 2018 Picture Colm O'Reilly Sunday Life
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 20th April 2018 - Pamela Ballantine with Bronagh Waugh and Niamh McGrady 2018 Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Gemma Garrett at the Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards 2018
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 20th April 2018 - 2018 Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 20th April 2018 - Tim McGarry, Colin Neill, Louis Walsh, Joel Neill and Gerry White pictured at the 2018 Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 20th April 2018 - Niamh, Ben, Peter and Dervla Dolan pictured at the 2018 Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 20th April 2018 - Guests from Bangor Specsavers pictured at the 2018 Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 20th April 2018 - Stevey Lennox and Marian Lennox pictured at the 2018 Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 20th April 2018 - Emma Horan, Jayne Hamilton and Siofra Frost with Louis Walsh pictured at the 2018 Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 20th April 2018 - Sopecsavers Lisburn staff with Louis Walsh pictured at the 2018 Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
James Burrows, Ryan Clayton and Louis Walsh pictured at the 2018 Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 20th April 2018 - Tony McGinn, Eibhlin McGinn, Sian McGinn, Mona McGinn and Edel McGinn with Nicola and Alison Crimmins pictured at the 2018 Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 20th April 2018 - Martin Breen, Marie Jones and Ian McElhinney pictured at the 2018 Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 20th April 2018 - Paula Cunningham and Katie Nugent with Nicola and Alison Crimmins pictured at the 2018 Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 20th April 2018 - Marc Mallett and Pamela Ballantine with Nicola and Alison Crimmins pictured at the 2018 Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 20th April 2018 - Fiona Brown, Siobhan O'Sullivan, Pamela Ballantine, Sarah Weir, Joanne Harvey and Kerry Harding pictured at the 2018 Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Ryan Burnett and Laura Milner pictured at the 2018 Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards - Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 20th April 2018 - Martin Breen, Ryan Burnett and Laura Milner pictured at the 2018 Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 20th April 2018 - Jenny Lyness, Victoria Glenn, Deirdre Forsythe. Sandra Mutch, and Sheryl White pictured at the 2018 Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 20th April 2018 - Philip and Sandra Mutch pictured at the 2018 Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 20th April 2018 - Christina and Brian O'Kane pictured at the 2018 Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 20th April 2018 - Charlene O'Donnell, Jamie-Lee O'Donnell and Kevina Saunders pictured at the 2018 Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 20th April 2018 - Deborah Kilpatrick and Valerie McCullough pictured at the 2018 Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 20th April 2018 - Alison and Laura Crimmins pictured at the 2018 Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 20th April 2018 - Carlissa Neill and Glen Jameson pictured at the 2018 Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 20th April 2018 - Karen Malone and Anne Gallagher pictured at the 2018 Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

By Kelly Allen

Stars of sport, stage and screen showed their support for Northern Ireland's unsung heroes in a glittering ceremony on Friday night.

A host of famous faces were blown away by our 10 amazing finalists at the ninth Sunday Life Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards with Specsavers at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. The celebs mingled with over 400 invited guests and award nominees.

Dynamic duo Marc Mallett and Pamela Ballantine returned as the perfect presenting partnership on what turned out to be an inspiring night, celebrating our very best Spirit of Northern Ireland.

Two of the stars of the hit Channel 4 show Derry Girls were delighted to be at the event in Belfast.

Awards judge Ian McElhinney attended with his wife, playwright Marie Jones. The Derry Girls and Game Of Thrones actor said: "Being asked to judge for a second year was amazing. The stories are really humbling. Everyone here tonight is a winner. Everyone nominated have put themselves out in a way that, to be the honest most people don't, well certainly I never do. It's extraordinary."

Jamie Lee O'Donnell, who plays Michelle Mallon in the sitcom set in the city in the 1990s, was attending for the first time and presented the Spirit of Youth Award to Emily Magee.

"It's really inspirational listening to all the stories and great to celebrate the people in the community. There's so many good people where I'm from and it's so nice to meet everyone," Jamie said.

Sunday Life. Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards 2018
Dominic Brunt from Emmerdale, Gaynor Faye from Emmerdale
Picture Colm O'Reilly Sunday Life
Sunday Life. Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards 2018 Dominic Brunt from Emmerdale, Gaynor Faye from Emmerdale Picture Colm O'Reilly Sunday Life

As well as Ian, Sunday Life editor Martin Breen, UTV's Sarah Clarke, golfer Darren Clarke and singer Niall Horan helped whittle 1,000 nominations down to the 10 winners.

Judge Niall couldn't be there on the night as he was on his sold-out solo tour in Europe, but he sent a video message to the nine-year-old, much to the delight of the crowd.

He said: "Emily's a little superstar and an inspiration. That's why myself and Modest Golf have voted her youth winner."

The One Direction star, who runs Modest Golf sports management company with pal Mark McDonnell, has offered to meet all our winners at the Northern Ireland golf open at Galgorm Castle later this year.

Some of the biggest names in local sport were at the event, including world champion boxer Ryan Burnett and Irish boxing champ Paddy Barnes. Ryan presented the Spirit of Sport Award to Paul Johnson.

There were soap stars aplenty too, with some of the nation's favourite TV characters presenting awards and happily posing for selfies. Emmerdale's Dominic Brunt (Paddy Kirk) and Gaynor Faye (Megan Macey) both made a welcome return and were impressed by the bravery of our winners.

Louis Walsh and fans at the 2018 Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards - Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Louis Walsh and fans at the 2018 Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards - Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

Dominic said: "I love this night and my children love it. It's a unique part of the world and it's an honour to be here."

He had the audience in hysterics when he couldn't announce the winner of the Specsavers sponsored award for Overcoming Adversity because "I haven't got my glasses on".

Gaynor added: "All the Emmerdale cast want to come and we want them here too but it's making sure that I still get to come too because I love it."

Ryan Burnett and Laura Milner pictured at the 2018 Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards - Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Ryan Burnett and Laura Milner pictured at the 2018 Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards - Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

Two of Coronation Street's newcomers, who also attended for the first time, presented the Unsung Hero Award to Community First and partied into the early hours. Ryan Clayton, who plays bad boy Josh Tucker, said: "It's a pleasure to be here to share the room with so many generous, kind human beings."

James Burrow, new GP Alex Neeson, added: "It's an honour and it's all about the guys here. Thanks Belfast for having us."

Charlie Lawson, who played Jim McDonald on the Street, presented the Charity Champion award with Q Radio breakfast show presenter, Cate Conway.

He joked: "Coronation Street needs me back. One of those young ones didn't even have socks on. It's about time they got a man back on the street and he's coming back."

Gemma Garrett, Q Radio's Eoghan Quigg, Tim McGarry and Damon Quinn from The Hole In The Wall Gang and The Fall actresses and best pals Bronagh Waugh and Niamh McGrady were spotted mingling with award winners.

Presenting the 999 Award to firefighter Noel McGee, Bronagh urged the room to be the ones that make changes to our community. She spoke passionately about how our fire service have put themselves on the front line despite being underfunded and underpaid.

She said: "I love the Spirit of NI Awards. I have been here since the first day and it's struck me. The last 20 years has been a momentous time for Northern Ireland but it's not going to be the politicians that move the country forward, but the communities. The winners and nominees are the pillars of this community. The people that are in the emergency services are on the front line and they are underfunded, undercut and they are looking after us and saving our lives."

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph