Belfast Telegraph

Sunday Life Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards 2014: Search on for unsung heroes

Sunday Life has teamed up with Specsavers again in search of Northern Ireland’s unsung heroes.

We have joined forces to launch this year's search for who you think best captures the Spirit of Northern Ireland in 2014.

The finalists will be honoured at a gala ceremony later this year which will again be broadcast on UTV. Last year's ceremony, where inspirational Wee Oscar Knox was named overall winner, attracted a TV audience of some 200,000 people across the country.

We want your nominations for who you think is worthy of Spirit of Northern Ireland Award, by selflessly serving others and being an inspiration to us all.

The unique Northern Ireland-wide search will give recognition to those whose good deeds have previously gone mostly unnoticed.

The grand final for the Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards with Specsavers will take place on Friday, May 30 at the luxurious five-star Culloden Estate & Spa resort in Holywood.

A headline performer will be announced in the coming weeks for the event. Entertainment will also be provided during the event by local comedian John Linehan / AKA May McFetridge.

Hosting the Sunday Life Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards with Specsavers this year will be UTV/U105's Frank Mitchell and Pamela Ballentine, and just like previous years the audience will be filled with many local celebrities supporting the event and eager to hear the incredible stories behind the finalists.

Last year stars from Coronatioon Street and Emmerdale attended the event as did Britain’s Got Talent finalist Jordan O’Keefe and sporting heroes including boxer Paddy Barnes and Northern Ireland footballer Michael O’Neill.

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

Whether for demonstrating a spirit of compassion, neighbourliness, charity, enterprise, courage or devotion, all nominations are welcome. All those who submit nominations will automatically be entered into a prize draw to win a £150 eyecare voucher and a VIP experience at the awards, including an overnight stay at the Culloden, courtesy of Specsavers.

Specsavers Northern Ireland chairman Tony McGinn said: “This is the fourth year that Specsavers has sponsored the Spirit of Northern Ireland awards, and we are delighted to continue our association with such an incredible event which celebrates such inspirational people.

'I know I speak for all of the Specsavers staff across the province that each year we are humbled and inspired by the stories that are received and I have no doubt that this year will be no different.”

Sunday Life editor Martin Breen added: “This event has become Northern Ireland’s flagship awards ceremony. These awards celebrate all that is good about Northern Ireland, so we need people to tell us about the unsung heroes in their lives and local communities who deserve recognition.”

There are four awards in total: the Specsavers
Overcoming Adversity Award, the Sunday Life Unsung Hero Award, the U105 Young Persons Award and the overall Spirit of Northern Ireland Award.

Five finalists from each of the three categories will feature in Sunday Life as well as on UTV and on U105.8FM radio station. One of the finalists, chosen by a judging panel from Sunday Life, Specsavers and UTV/U105.8FM, will also be named as the Spirit of Northern Ireland winner of 2014.

You can nominate an unsung hero via the form on this page or email us at The closing date for nominations is Tuesday April 22.

* The Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards grand final will be at held at the Culloden Estate and Spa on Friday, May 30.
All the finalists will be invited to the glittering awards ceremony, which will include entertainment, celebrity guests and be shown on UTV.

Tickets for the gala awards ceremony cost £60, which includes dinner, table wine and the top class entertainment, can be purchased from JPR, Sylvan House, 232-240, Belmont Office Park, Belfast, BT4 2AW; by phone at 028 9076 0066 or e-mailing:



The name of this award says it all -- someone whose great deed or deeds have hitherto gone unnoticed.
They will have made a major contribution to your life or to your community. They really will be an ordinary person who has done an extraordinary thing just like last year's winner, Carrickfergus bus driver Tommy Williams.
Tommy and his wife Marian have provided a loving home and sanctuary to 25 foster children. A grand
dad of four, Tommy, 60, has also travelled twice at his own expense to Tanzania to help build houses for people with leprosy.


This award recognises those who have overcome huge personal challenges, whether it is dealing with illness or disability or overcoming problems.
One man who did just this was last year's winner, Michaela Holly-wood from Crossgar.
Suffering from a rare form of Muscular Dystrophy, the University of Ulster student, who lives in Crossgar, is one of the founding members of Trailblazers, a network of 400 disabled young people across the country, which lobbies on behalf of disabled youth.
The 22-year-old supports the All Party Group for Muscular Dystrophy at Stormont where she has given talks addressing decision makers.


This award honours young people (under the age of 18) for special achievements.
This honour was awarded last year to to Newry teenager Ryan Cinnamond.
Despite having both legs amputated after suffering a ruptured aortic aneurysm, the 18-year-old has made a remarkable recovery and is planning to be the first athlete in Ireland to compete in the Paralympics with runner blades.


This is awarded by the judges to the person who they feels best represents the Spirit of Northern Ireland by selflessly serving others and being an inspiration to us all. Last year's winner was inspirational Glengormley boy Wee Oscar Knox whose heroic battle with a rare and aggressive cancer captured the hearts and minds of the Northern Ireland public. The five-year-old recently started school for the first time.

To nominate your unsung hero fill in this form or email your nomination explaining in 50-100 words why you think this person is worthy of a Spirit of Northern Ireland Award to

Closing date for nominations is April 22.

Cliick here to download the entry form

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