Belfast Telegraph

Looking out for a hero

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By Fiona McIlwaine Biggins

Adiverse selection of well known Ulster women rubbed shoulders with some of the world's most famous female faces in a Belfast Telegraph vox pop.

As the BT Woman of the Year Awards draw closer, we asked local people to pick some of the women they believe are the most inspirational today.

And everyone from fashion icons such as Victoria Beckham to Ulster Everest conqueror Hannah Shields were listed.

Anna Gourley (21), from Ballygowan, who has just graduated in history from Queen's University, Belfast, says:

"I think Gail Porter, who suffers from alopecia, is a really inspirational woman. She has been through so much and yet still manages to remain positive.

"She is such a public figure and a lot of people, if they had been in her position, would have found it hard to be so brave and keep working in the public eye."

Julie Main (32) is a full-time mum from Belfast. She says:

" Katie Price is great because although she is a real celebrity now, she still does everything for her family herself and she has to cope with one wee boy who is disabled too.

"She is always so down to earth - what you see is what you get - and her kids go everywhere with her.

" Another lady who is a real role model for mums today is Sara Payne who campaigned for Sarah's Law after her wee girl was murdered."

Michelle Coughlin (39) is a full-time mum from Belfast. She says:

"I would love to see ordinary mums get recognised in these awards.

"Someone like my own mum, Margaret, who brought me and my three sisters up after she was widowed when she was just in her thirties.

" It was only when I grew up and became a mother myself that I realised the sacrifices she made for us."

Marcus Park (31) is a civil servant from near Cookstown. He says:

"I definitely think leading local women such as Margaret Ritchie, the Social Development Minister, or Mary McAleese are truly inspirational and should be recognised for all their endless hard work.

"I would also like to see some 'local lasses done good', like Christine Blakely, recognised for inspiring other Ulster ladies to break out of Northern Ireland and succeed beyond our shores."

Hannah Collins (63) is a retired teacher from Kilrea. She says:

"I would like to see people who really make a difference recognised for their efforts rather than all these celebrities.

"Someone like my fellow Kilrea woman, Hannah Shields, who climbed Everest, is a really inspirational sportswoman who shows what dedication and achieving your goals can mean."

Janine Murphy (21), a solicitors' receptionist from Comber, says:

"A fashion icon like Victoria Beckham really inspires women to look good and deal with whatever life throws at them.

"She handles all the bad publicity and is still a busy working mum who just gets on with things under pressure and lives for her family. I think a lot of those who ridicule her are just jealous!"

Jim Herdman (71) is a retired bookmaker and singer from Belfast. He says:

"I'd pick our own Pamela Ballentine as a hard-working and hard-playing local woman who is often outspoken and, of course, has great legs!

" Women are really coming into their own these days and it is only now in my older years that I realise just how much they do and can achieve. Good luck to them!"

Belfast Telegraph


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