Belfast Telegraph

Search for our unsung heroes

Flybe and Sunday Life have joined forces with UTV to launch a search for Northern Ireland’s unsung heroes. We are looking for men, women and children who you believe best captures the Spirit of Northern Ireland in 2008 by selflessly serving others and being an inspiration to us all.

Readers can nominate the person they believe show the Flybe/Sunday Life Spirit of Northern Ireland – a spirit of compassion, neighbourliness, charity, enterprise, courage and devotion.

The unique Northern Ireland-wide search will give recognition to those who have so far not been officially acclaimed for their good deeds.

Flybe and Sunday Life are looking for just ordinary people who are doing extraordinary things to help others – people whose uplifting stories of selfless acts for others will touch the hearts of all those who read them.

The winner of the overall Flybe/Sunday Life Spirit of Northern Ireland Award will win a car as a recognition of the contribution they have given to others. The person who nominates the winner will themselves win a pair of flights courtesy of Flybe.

Many of you reading this will already know the kind of people we are looking for as they make your lives, your neighbourhood and this country a better place.

They could be a child of courage, inspiring emergency services workers, suicide prevention activists, teachers and carers - anyone who has done a act of outstanding bravery or charity or dedicated their lives to fundraising and caring for others.

Our finalists, all of whom will inspire others, could come from all walks of life and represent all ages.

Elsewhere those who have been acclaimed for similar good deeds include Bob Geldof for Live Aid, Sara Payne who has dedicated her life to saving children from sex offenders following the 2000 murder of her daughter Sarah, and the late Jane Tomlinson who raised £1.75m for charity while battling cancer.

Olympic pentathlete Dame Mary Peters, who moved to Belfast as a girl, is credited with briefly uniting the people of Northern Ireland during one of the worst years of the Troubles. She claimed gold for Britain in the pentathlon during the 1972 Munich Olympics. Dame Mary has worked heavily for charity, sport and tourism in Northern Ireland and recently launched a trust in her name to raise cash for disabled and able-bodies athletes.

However, our heroes will not be well known like these people. They will be your local heroes.

Each week we will single out four people nominated by our readers in the paper as worthy recipients of the Spirit of Northern Ireland award.

You can nominate YOUR candidate for the Flybe/Sunday Life Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards in the form on this page and tell us in between 50 and 100 words why you think that person should win. You can either email or post us your nomination.

Sunday Life readers will then vote for their favourite two nominees each week to go forward to a semi-final.

That 20 will then be whittled down to ten who will appear at a gala awards ceremony in a plush Belfast hotel in January. It will be the biggest event of its kind in Northern Ireland.

A special panel of judges, including celebrity guests, will then choose one of the finalists as our overall winner as best representing the Flybe/Sunday Life Sprit of Northern Ireland Awards.

UTV star Julian Simmons will be MC at the awards night alongside another well-known presenter. Each week on UTV Life, Julian will feature some of our Flybe/Sunday Life Spirit of Northern Ireland nominees.

Sunday Life Executive Editor Martin Breen said: “We are looking for real-life heroes, those who have done great deeds locally and further afield.

“Sunday Life and Flybe wants to give official recognition to those who have gone to great lengths to help others. Spirit of Northern Ireland will be the most uplifting awards ceremony of the year. This is our way of saying thanks to them on behalf of the community.”

Flybe, the largest scheduled carrier at George Best Belfast City Airport, said it takes great pride in supporting the local community in which it operates.

Andrea Hayes, Flybe General Manager —Market Development, said: “Flybe is an airline that puts the community at the heart of it’s operations. Over the years we have sponsored all kinds of sporting activity from youth football, including the Belfast Telegraph, mini World Cup initiative to the victorious Ulster Tens Veterans team at this year’s Melrose sevens tournament in Scotland. We have also assisted a wide range of charities and local community initiatives.

“Flybe is particularly delighted to be the title sponsor of the Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards in association with UTV. More than that we are honoured to be involved in such a prestigious event which recognises the unsung heroes in the community from all walks of life, young and old, we are proud to help celebrate the success of those people who work quietly behind the scenes, of men and women who have achieved successes despite challenging circumstances, of dedicated volunteers and good neighbours who make a real difference.

"With our focus on serving the regions Flybe is very committed to local communities with the aim of also being a good neighbour. Support of initiatives such as Spirit of Northern Ireland is an integral part of our operations and an important way for us to contribute to key regions within our network.

“Flybe has been proud to serve Northern Ireland for twenty five years providing low cost flights for both business and leisure passengers. Our route network continues to grow and currently offers regular direct flights to 14 destinations as well as a vast number of additional UK and European destinations through our onward connections facilities.

“Flybe’s continued commitment to Northern Ireland is assured and in this spirit of confidence and optimism we look forward to saluting the province’s many unsung heroes on the run up to the grand final in January 2009.”

Direct to 14 destinations from Belfast

Spirit of Northern Ireland sponsor Flybe now flies to 14 destinations from Belfast.

As Europe's largest regional airline with 180 routes from UK and European airports, Flybe started life in 1979 as Jersey European Airways and later British European. In 2002 the airline was relaunched as a low-cost brand.

Celebrities who have flown into Belfast courtesy of Flybe include Lulu, the Manchester United football team and Coronation Street stars Samia Smith (Maria Sutherland) and Bill Tarmey (Jack Duckworth). In 2006 soccer legend George Best's son Calum launched ''The George Best'' a specially branded Flybe Q400 aircraft, at George Best Belfast City Airport.

The 14 destinations Flybe flies to from Belfast are Aberdeen, Birmingham, Cardiff, Doncaster / Sheffield, Dundee, Edinburgh, Exeter, Glasgow, Inverness, Leeds Bradford, London Gatwick, Manchester, Newcastle and Southampton.

Mike Rutter, Flybe's Chief Commercial Officer, said: "Flybe is now the biggest domestic airline outside of London by a country mile and in spite of the current economic climate we've had a busy and successful first half of 2008. With the launch of 'Flybe Connections', we're making it even easier for Northern Ireland passengers to get their hands on great value through-flights at the click of a mouse."

For more information on Flybe, log onto