Belfast Telegraph

Billy was a Local Hero... who is next?

By Steven Beacom

Boxer Carl Frampton was as charismatic as always. He was standing on the stage at the 2013 Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards and having collected a special prize for his success in the ring, was poking some good natured fun at host Jackie Fullerton.

The great and the good of Northern Ireland sport in attendance at the Ramada Plaza Hotel in Belfast were chuckling away.

It was one of many memorable moments on a fantastic evening.

For Carl, though, it was not the highlight.

That came when he was given the opportunity to present our Local Heroes award to his first coach, Billy McKee.

The Local Heroes trophy is handed out to those who have achieved something special at grassroots level, to those who inspire behind the scenes rather than being centre of attention, to those who do what they do for the love of their sport.

McKee was a worthy recipient of a prize that goes beyond the high profile Northern Ireland names hitting headlines for their remarkable exploits around the globe.

And Frampton, the down to earth Tiger's Bay man who always remembers where he came from, was keen to be there to give McKee the recognition all his efforts deserved.

McKee spent a lifetime working with kids at the Midland Boxing Club in north Belfast and started Frampton's career, training him, encouraging him and guiding him in the right direction from an early age.

Back in January at our awards, Frampton, who seven months on would become champion of the world, wanted to let the 500-strong crowd know how McKee had helped develop him as a boxer and as a person.

It was a heartfelt and sincere tribute, appreciated by McKee himself, not one to go looking for the publicity.

He made a difference not only to Frampton, but to hundreds of others down the years by using the power of sport.

In many ways, that is what our Local Heroes award is all about.

And we need YOU to help us find the person or people who deserve to follow in McKee's footsteps at the 2014 Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards.

Do you know someone working diligently behind the scenes of your club or someone doing great deeds for your sport away from the bright lights who merits discussion when the judges for the awards meet early next month?

If so, then please send in your nominations. You can do so through our website (see below for all the details).

And it's not just for the Local Heroes gong. The closing date for nominations is on Monday and we want to hear from YOU regarding all the categories for the 2014 awards, which will take place on January 26, 2015.

From the Sports Star of the Year to the Young Player of the Year and Coach of the Year to Team of the Year, there are plenty to choose from.

Belfast Telegraph


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