Belfast Telegraph

Search for unsung heroes grabs public imagination

By Victoria O'Hara

Unsung heroes from across Northern Ireland are now receiving well-deserved recognition.

Through the Belfast Telegraph Making The Difference Awards in association with Spar, mothers, neighbours, whole streets and businesses are being praised for their positive impact.

Nominations are continuing to come in from every part of the province.

Launched at the start of September, the chance to honour those individuals, projects and organisations who make a difference to the daily lives of everyday people has proved to be popular with readers.

Among the nominations this week is Daisies Cafe in Newtownards, Co Down, for Best Business.

Opened 10 years ago, it was established to help provide alternative training and employment for people with a learning disability or mental illness and has been a huge success.

Jim Shannon, MP for Strangford, who nominated the cafe, said: "Those with special needs are shown how to do their specific job -- and what a job they do.

"The staff of Daisies is a team in every sense of the word and this teamwork makes the difference to the lives of all staff members."

George Johnston (89), from Gilnahirk in Co Antrim, has been nominated for the Best Neighbour category.

For the last 25 years, Mr Johnston has been organising a weekly club for pensioners and has been heralded as "a remarkable man" for his efforts. Meanwhile, Shane Steele from Ballymena has been praised for giving service with a smile at Mid Antrim Animal Sanctuary.

Among the youngest people nominated is toddler Aaron Winters from Moira for 999 Hero.

His mother Kim (27) said he was able to warn her that his baby brother was in possible danger when he became caught up in cot sheets.

Despite the great response we would still like to receive even more nominations and hear who is Making The Difference in your life.

Belfast Telegraph readers are able to put forward the name of the person, group or local business in one of 11 categories -- from Spirit of Youth to Carer in the Community.

Three finalists will then be chosen from each category and a winner selected by our judging panel. The overall winner will then be chosen.

The awards will be presented at a gala night in the Grand Opera House on March 9 next year.

Mike Gilson, editor of the Belfast Telegraph, said: "We say Making The Difference because that is what I believe a newspaper should be doing for its readers. Not just bringing them the news but campaigning on their behalf and giving them information which helps them get on with their lives."

Belfast Telegraph


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