More than 200 people gathered last night to toast the achievements of people and companies in east Belfast.
BBC presenter Tara Mills hosted the second annual Eastside Awards, which are run in association with George Best Belfast City Airport.
Guests at the Stormont Hotel were entertained by musicians from Grosvenor Grammar School and treated to a performance by joint chamber choirs from Ashfield Girls High School and Dominican College.
The top accolade for Outstanding Contribution was awarded to former world champion kickboxer Billy Murray.
Judges said: “He stepped into a boxing club with the sole aim of being able to defend himself from others in the school yard. The sport captured his imagination and he was the first Irish man ever to win four world kickboxing titles at four different weights. He now runs Prokick Gym in the heart of East Belfast where his teaching and coaching instils truth, discipline and respect – traits which perfectly sum Billy up.”
The other winners were:
Eastside Award for Tourism sponsored by Titanic Foundation and Titanic Quarter: EastSide Visitor Centre
Eastside Award for Foodie Destination sponsored by The Foundry: The Lamppost Café
Eastside Award for Independent Retailer sponsored by Belfast City Council: Wood Floor Warehouse
Eastside Award for Individual Contribution to Sport sponsored by Wolesley: Justin McMinn, Street Soccer NI
Eastside Award for Contribution to the Arts sponsored by Solv Group: EastSide Arts
Eastside Award for Educator of the Year sponsored by Millar McCall Wylie: Alison Mungavin, Ashfield Girls High School and Tracy Rossborough, Ashfield Girls High School
Eastside Award for Contribution from a Community Project sponsored by Belfast Harbour: East Belfast Community Counselling Centre
Eastside Award for Business Growth SME sector sponsored by Ulster Bank: Wood Floor Warehouse
Eastside Award for Business Start Up sponsored by East Belfast Enterprise: Sweet Robyn’s Ltd
Eastside Award for Business Contribution to the Community sponsored by Phoenix Natural Gas: Little Wing Pizzeria
Eastside Award for Employer of the Year sponsored by Fleet Financial: Parr Group
Eastside Award for Young Person of the Year sponsored by Rodgers and Finney: Rebecca McKersie, Ashfield Girls High School
Eastside Award for Volunteer of the Year sponsored by Bravehearts NI: Michael Close, Ledley Hall Boys and Girls Club
Michelle Hatfield, Director of Human Resources and Corporate Responsibility at George Best Belfast City Airport, principal sponsor said: “Belfast City Airport is proud to once again support the Eastside Awards as principal sponsor and would like to warmly congratulate all the winners and shortlisted organisations.
“Positively contributing to our local community is integral to Belfast City Airport’s business ethos. Through our Corporate Responsibility strategy, delivered primarily through our Community Fund, we provide support for a wide range of local schools, charities and other organisations. Having donated £350,000 to over 120 projects, we are very aware of the positive impact that businesses working closely with the community can have.
“All of the nominees highlighted have contributed positively to the social, economic and community development of East Belfast, and we are delighted to acknowledge them.”
Sponsor Geri Wright, Communications Manager, Phoenix Natural Gas Ltd, said: “Phoenix Natural Gas is delighted to sponsor the Eastside Awards to recognise and reward talent within the East Belfast community in which we are based. The success of the awards last year is testament to the talent of the local community and the contributions made through business, voluntary and community work. We are delighted to once again support these awards which showcase the best of the East as a hub for creativity, culture and innovation and we congratulate all the worthy winners and finalists.”
Jonathan McAlpin, Chief Executive of East Belfast Enterprise and Chair of Eastside Awards Committee, said: “I’m honoured that the judges of the second Eastside Awards have recognised a truly amazing and diverse range of winners. These awards are a fitting way to celebrate all that is great about East Belfast and in this second year, the awards have again proven to be a magnificent success.”