Belfast Telegraph

Don't keep mum about how great mothers are

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• Click here to make a nomination
• Categories and entry details in full

By Fiona McIlwaine Biggins

Is your mum one in a million, inspiring and a real role model who you believe is deserving of the prize of BT Mum of the Year?

Have you grown up and developed with the help and care of a mum who simply gets on with the tasks at hand, but is seldom recognised for her tireless and devoted work in caring for her family - while perhaps juggling her career into the bargain?

Perhaps your mum, step-mum, foster mum or grandmother have been there to help you through difficult times or to give you advice and support when you really needed it.

Then you should nominate her in the Mum of the Year category, which is being sponsored by Boots.

Your nominee in the the Belfast Telegraph competition, which is being run in association with Spar, should be a woman who is an outstanding mother, leader and role model.

She could even be a guest of honour at our gala BT Woman of the Year Awards ceremony to be held in Belfast's Europa Hotel on Wednesday, November 28.

Compered by BBC Radio Ulster presenter Wendy Austin, the night promises to be a celebration of the most inspirational women in Northern Ireland.

One famous mother of three and renowned local restaurateur, Jeanne Rankin, who is also one of the judges for the competition, says: "I believe that there are many, many mums who deserve an award as it is one of the hardest and most important jobs that exist.

"From mums who combine work and family, to stay-at-home mums; single mums who carry all the responsibility alone to those who have to cope with adversity it will be difficult to pick just one winner in this category.

"Whatever your situation, being a mum is a constant juggling act. Mums wear many different hats in society and the challenge is keeping everything in balance. In essence, the role of a good mum is all about nurturing.

"Mums should provide unconditional love, support and guidance and make sure that when 'push comes to shove' you are always there for your children when it counts."

Mary Johnston, well-known mum of local GMTV presenter Emma-Louise, reiterates these sentiments and said she hopes to see those mothers who have really stepped up to the mark in the face of adversity getting the recognition they deserve.

"In my opinion, it's easy enough to be an adequate mum and to provide as best you can for your children's physical and emotional needs. But I'd like to see someone who has perhaps broken the mould, receive credit for her achievement, " she says.

"It can't be easy for someone who has been up against it and who perhaps hasn't herself known the love of a good mum, to turn into a great one herself. It must be so much harder for a mum with nobody to turn to for support or guidance when maybe they have a child suffering from illness, disability, bullying or getting into trouble."

And she points out: "A good mum will love her children and tell them often and how much.

"She'll teach them right from wrong and be there for them - always. She'll be thoughtful and intuitive and make sure they know that they can achieve but that not everything is achievable.

"Some mothers may absolutely hate the choices their children have made and hate the things they've done, but they can't hate them - a mother's love is unconditional."

Meanwhile, Deirdre Brady, chief executive of TinyLife (formerly Northern Ireland Mother and Baby Action), says: " Mum of the Year is a wonderful opportunity to recognise those special women who are an inspiration to us all.

"Some need to juggle careers and family life, while others devote their time to caring for their family at home. We never hear of them as they go about their daily lives.

" These are mothers who are selfless in the pursuit of the health and happiness of their family and others, the unsung heroes never expecting recognition, doing what they know needs to be done - going that extra mile."

And Siobhan Fitzpatrick, CEO of Early Years, the organisation for young children, also highlights the important role mums play: "Being a mum is one of the most rewarding, but also challenging roles in a woman's life.

"All our mums deserve praise for the great work they do in bringing up children.

"Early Years encourages everyone to nominate their mum for giving them the best start in life, listening and talking to them, reading to and playing with them and most of all for loving them."

Mary Woods, area manager for Boots Northern Ireland, sponsors of the Mum of the Year category, adds: "Boots' commitment to the local community goes beyond providing its customers with great products and choice.

" Many of our stores are operated by mums and through our Parenting Club, we have one-to-one contact with mothers across Northern Ireland.

" Therefore, it is felt fitting that we sponsor this category.

" Boots wants to help celebrate and champion the achievements of women across the country who are helping to shape the future of Northern Ireland - be this through caring for the next generation, through their professional life or acts of kindness that have made a difference.

"Mums tend to be the unsung heroes of our daily life and these awards provide the perfect platform to recognise their inspiration and contribution to those around them."

You can enter the competition by telling us in under 200 words why your nominee should win in their category. For each of the nine categories the nominee should have been in her line of work for a least a year and have demonstrated a particular achievement.

You should say how she has inspired others and how she has shown passion, drive and energy in her endeavours.

You can send your entry to womanoftheyear@belfasttelegraph. or post it to BT Woman of the Year, Belfast Telegraph, 124-144 Royal Avenue, Belfast, BT1 1EB. And, by nominating someone, you and a friend are in with a chance of winning one of five pairs of tickets for the gala ceremony, worth £100. The closing date for entries is November 12. If you want to attend the ceremony you can buy tickets, priced £50, from JPR (tel: 9076 0066). Nominees and those nominating must be over 18.

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