Belfast Telegraph

Sunday Life Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards 2015: Nominate your hero

By Tony Allen

Sunday Life has again teamed up with Specsavers for the biggest date in the local awards calendar - the Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards.

As the only televised awards ceremony in Northern Ireland, we want your nominations for who you think is worthy of a Spirit of Northern Ireland Award, by selflessly serving others and being an inspiration to us all.

The finalists will be honoured at a gala ceremony on Friday June 12 at the luxurious five-star Culloden Estate & Spa resort in Holywood, which will again be broadcast on UTV. The unique Northern Ireland-wide search will give recognition to those whose good deeds have previously gone mostly unnoticed.

Hosting the Sunday Life Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards with Specsavers this year will be UTV/U105's Frank Mitchell and Pamela Ballantine, 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.

Soap and drama fans had their pick of household names at last year's event from the likes of Emmerdale, Coronation Street, Holby City, Game of Thrones and The Fall.

Mingling with the crowd were Corrie favourite 'Big' Jim McDonald actor Charlie Lawson, Emmerdale stars Dominic Brunt, who plays Paddy Kirk, Bashkar Patel aka Rishi Sharma and Michelle Hardwick who plays vet Vanessa Woodfield.

The world of sport was also represented with boxers Carl Frampton and Paddy Barnes and rugby stars Rory Best and Craig Gilroy, The Fall actresses Bronagh Waugh and Niamh McGrady and singers Andrea Begley and Jordan O'Keefe.

This year's event will again be a memorable night as we pay tribute to ordinary people who are doing extraordinary things to help others - people whose uplifting stories of selfless acts will touch the hearts of all who hear 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 Brian O'Kane said: "We are delighted to be sponsors of the Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards for the fifth Year running, and we are thrilled to continue our association with such an incredible event.

"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.

 "These awards celebrate all that is good about Northern Ireland and give us the opportunity to champion these incredible people, so urge people to tell us about the unsung heroes in their lives and local communities who deserve recognition."

Sunday Life editor Martin Breen added: "We want people to nominate those people who have made a difference to their lives or a difference to the lives of their local community. We will be celebrating all that is good about Northern Ireland, so we need people to tell us about their unsung heroes who deserve recognition."

There are four awards in total:

Specsavers Overcoming Adversity Award

Sunday Life Unsung Hero Award

U105 Young Persons Award

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 2015.

- You can nominate an unsung hero via the form on this page or email us at spiritofniawards@sundaylife.co.uk. Closing date for nominations is Friday May 1.

Click here to download the entry form

- The Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards grand final will be at held at the Culloden Estate and Spa on Friday, June 12. All the finalists will be invited to the glittering awards ceremony, which will include entertainment, celebrity guests and will 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: mail@jprni.com