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What we want in 2014

From hoping to be a better person and helping those with cancer to longing for an end to all discord in Northern Ireland, well-known faces tell Una Brankin their New Year wishes

A new year not only means drawing a line under the past twelve months, but also looking forward to what the immediate future might bring. For some there might already be life-changing events they know about, such as the birth of a child, a dream holiday, retirement or a house move.

For others it will be a case of dealing with what life throws at them, be it a career change, unemployment, bereavement or ill-health. Whatever is coming our way, we all begin the new year with hopes of one kind or another. We have spoken to a number of well-known local people to find out just what they will be hoping for in the year ahead..

Martin Lynch (63) is a playwright and lives in Belfast with his partner, Jo Egan. He says:

At the moment I'm directing a play at The MAC called Baby It's Cold Outside which opens on January 21, so I'm hoping that's successful. It's very funny.

For Northern Ireland I would hope there would be a mass of brain transplants so they'll give the majority of people what they want – co-operation and shared administration. I think we're being held to ransom by small minorities on both sides and the politicians are pandering to them.

I think they should go with what the majority want and if that requires mass transplants then that's what has to be done.

I want to do more writing in 2014. I've booked a house abroad for most of February to go to by myself and just write.

I've done a lot of production and directing over the last few years so my writing has fallen back for that. I want to make more space for it in 2014."

Freddie Mercury tribute performer Harry Hamilton – aka Flash Harry – lives in Lurgan with his wife Heather and and their three daughters Brooke (17), Lucy (16), Tianna (12). He says:

My hopes for Northern Ireland would be that the politicians grow up and start dealing with the problems here and stop using events as political football.

We're bringing out some new tunes this autumn from the Great American Songbook and hopefully they will be successful. We also have a few gigs coming up in January and February. I just want to continue with the opportunities I have to perform. On a personal level I hope the children will do well – the oldest is off to university and I hope it won't be too difficult to come to terms with!"

Jackie Fullerton (70) lives in Ballymena with his wife Linda, they have three grown up sons. He says:

When you get to my age you prefer people to say a healthy new year so I will be back at Weightwatchers this time next week. I did it three years ago and lost nearly two stone.

It creeps back very easily so I have to get back to it as I want to lose about 10lbs. I will do it. I go to the meetings and my leader is a lovely lady called Jackie.

They've stopped the men's class now so I will be going to join the ladies in Ballymena."

Shirley McMichael (61) from Lisburn is a civil servant and Pagan community worker. She says:

The past year was a difficult one for me – my son Saul took seriously ill with Guillain Barre syndrome, a very rare condition affecting the nervous system.

It was an absolute nightmare and we thought he was dying but he's doing better now and being so ill has given him the incentive to pick up his guitar again.

I turned 61 this year and it's made me focus on doing projects I'm really interested in.

I'm going on a Shamanic course this year and I have a lot of learning to do and books that have been piling up to read.

All I really want is for Saul to get better.

He and his fiance Stephanie are planning a wedding for next year and I feel I'm entering a new phase of my life – I want to do something of significance before I'm too old!

As for all of us, I came across a good blessing: I wish for our leaders, both in politics and the community, to be patient and strong, to do what is true, and to act without selfishness or fear. And I ask the Goddess to help them."

Kieran Goss (51), a singer/songwriter, is originally from Newry but now divides his time between Sligo and Nashville. He says:

My personal wish for 2014 is to get the balance back into our lives. My wife Ann is my backing singer and we spent most of 2013 on tour – over 200 shows and only five of those were in Ireland.

I'm not at all complaining. It was great fun and I want to tour more in 2014 but I'd like to make more time for friends, write more songs, read books and leave space to be inspired.

For me as a writer it's always about the next song. May 2014 be the year in which I write my best song ever.

On a more general level, I really hope that there can be some unity among the political parties in Northern Ireland on all our divisive issues.

There's so much for us to be proud of in Northern Ireland – the politicians must catch up. Happy New Year!"

Colleen Shaw (57) from Greenisland is chief executive of Friends of the Cancer Centre. She says:

My ultimate hope is for the day when charities like Friends of the Cancer Centre are no longer needed, but until then I hope that we can continue to make a real and meaningful difference to the lives of cancer patients and families right across Northern Ireland through the projects and lifesaving research we fund.

My own wish for the year ahead – as a nanny of four amazing grandchildren – is for the health and happiness of my growing family, as I have learned that that's all that truly matters in this life."

Tracey Hall (45) from Belfast, is director of Style Academy Model Agency. She says:

As a city centre commercial property owner, I hope and I pray that in 2014 the small minority who seem hell-bent on disrupting our trade and industry wake up and gain some respect for their country!

My wish is that they realise that we are all equal and need to learn to respect each other and learn to live together, if the economy – which affects each and every one of us – is to have any chance of improving in the current climate.

On a personal level, I'm getting married in April this year so I anticipate that it will be the most exciting year of my life to date!

It's such a wonderful experience to plan your own event – obviously I am so accustomed to organising events for my clients – but, for me, this brings a whole new dimension to event management.

I am working closely with the talented team at Larchfield Estate in Co Down for the reception, but ultimately you feel responsible for making your bigday something special for your guests.

My fiance is originally from Cambridge and between us we have friends scattered all over the globe, from Dubai to Australia.

So we are both beyond excited and genuinely overwhelmed that so many of our friends are planning to make the long, costly trip to celebrate with us on our special day."

Professor Joe O'Sullivan (43) from Wexford, is Consultant Clinical Oncologist at the Belfast City Hospital Cancer Centre, head of the clinical research programme in radiotherapy and prostate cancer at the CCRCB. He says:

I'm hopeful that the year ahead will bring us all continued improvement in outcomes for patients with cancer, through a combination of research and hard work.

There have been some amazing developments in the treatment of prostate cancer in the past few years and our research team and patients in Belfast have been key players in many of these developments.

I am very excited about a number of major research initiatives which will launch in Belfast in 2014, particularly in the area of improving and understanding radiotherapy in prostate cancer.

I hope that though continued cancer research we will see even more people surviving cancer and getting on with their lives.

Personally, I am looking forward to a healthy, musical, and fun 2014 with my wife Dara and children, Lucy, Anna, Leo and Oisín, as my family and I begin our tenth year living in Northern Ireland.

I hope to see further progress towards social and economic prosperity in this wonderful part of the world in 2014."

Brendan Murphy (49) from Newry is a singer/songwriter with rock band The 4 of Us. He says:

The band is going 25 years in 2014 – it's going to be a busy year for us touring with a new album that we're just putting the finishing touches to. The hope is people will like it! We're really looking forward to having a reunion of the original line-up for a big anniversary gig in the Empire in Belfast and in Vicar Street in Dublin in March.

On a wider level I hope the economy continues to improve and that the negative and destructive elements see the folly of what they're trying to do.

Northern Ireland deserves better."

Dr Seamus McAleer (56) from Beragh, Co Tyrone, is Senior Lecturer and Consultant in Clinical Oncology, Queen's University and Belfast City Hospital Cancer Centre and soon to be appointed Medical Director for Education and Training for Clinical Oncology in the UK. He says:

I hope to improve the experience and outcome of our patients with cancer through new consultant posts, new nurse specialist posts and the introduction of a new electronic prescribing and records system for oncology and haematology.

This year we will finally begin the building project for our long-awaited satellite unit at Altnagelvin which will make high quality radiotherapy and chemotherapy available locally in the north-west. I also hope to obtain exciting new therapies for my patients through clinical trials and also through expansion of new drug funding in the region.

In the medical school, I will strive to enhance the experience of our medical students and look to enhance the rising reputation of the school on the national and international stage.

My new role for college in London is very challenging and it will give me a real opportunity to shape the future of clinical oncology training in the UK.

On a personal level, I have unwisely organised a 1,000km cycle from Seville to Santiago in Spain for the Friends of the Cancer Centre in September 14. My earnest wish is that all 20 participants will have a safe and enjoyable adventure and that we can raise at least £50,000 for the Friends and their exciting and innovative projects.

Cathy Martin (40), is a PR consultant and director of Belfast Fashion Week. She says:

My wish is to stay healthy and happy for 2014. I hope that after 10 years of Belfast Fashion Week, that our independent fashion retailers survive and prosper by diversifying and going online. And I'd love to see more shoppers in the stores for the good of our towns and high streets."

Ralph McLean (43) is a BBC Radio Ulster presenter and lives in Ballymoney with his wife Kerry and their children Tara (7) and Dan (5). He says:

In 2014 my main hope is that Liverpool win the Premiership at long last – it's been a long time, too long for me. For the next year I don't have any particularly dramatic plans.

I just hope that I keep going and keep getting away with it – being allowed to play records on the radio. It's the best job in the world, playing my favourite records and getting paid to do it.

I hope that 2014 is peaceful and that we don't end up going back to the bad old days of the 1970s. I don't want that for my kids and I'm sure no-one else does either.

Hopefully Northern Ireland will keep getting better. It's a great place to live and a great place to bring up kids and I want it to stay like that. Fingers crossed."

Belfast Telegraph


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