The best of east Belfast was toasted last night at the third annual Eastside Awards.
More than 300 people attended the sell-out Burns Night event in the Stormont Hotel, which was held in association with George Best Belfast City Airport and hosted by BBC presenter Tara Mills.
The finalists were treated to a VIP reception courtesy of The Waterside Belfast and later guests were entertained by musicians from Grosvenor Grammar School and performances by the Bright Lights Dance Group and Murray School of Irish Dancing.
The top accolade for Outstanding Contribution was awarded to the former chief executive of Allied Bakeries, Mervyn Hempton, in recognition of his contribution to creating employment and wealth across the city through economic development. As chair of East Belfast Enterprise, he was instrumental in the building of the business park.
Michelle Hatfield, director of corporate services at George Best Belfast City Airport, said: "We all share and benefit from the continuing success of east Belfast and I want to congratulate all the finalists. The continuing hard work and commitment of the people of east Belfast make it such a great place to live, work and play."
Jonathan McAlpin, chief executive of East Belfast Enterprise and chair of the awards committee, added: "When I had a vision of bringing the people of east Belfast together to celebrate all that is great about our little corner of the city, I honestly had no idea that we would grow in three short years to be presenting the awards in front of more than 300 guests.
Mr McAlpin added: "I'm truly humbled and honoured that the judges of the third Eastside Awards have recognised such an amazing and diverse range of winners and these awards have excelled beyond my wildest expectations to be a magnificent success."
Eastside Awards 2019 winners in full:
Favourite Beauty Salon sponsored by Solv Group: Beauty Culture
Favourite Hair Salon sponsored by Solv Group: LaVeau Hair
Favourite Eatery sponsored by Solv Group: Orchard Café
Favourite Takeaway sponsored by Solv Group: Mandarin City
Tourism Experience sponsored by Titanic Belfast, Titanic Foundation and Titanic Quarter: We Are Vertigo
Individual Contribution to Sport sponsored by Millar McCall Wylie: Gervis Knox and Keith Knox, Ormeau Table Tennis Club & Ulster Table Tennis
Contribution to the Arts sponsored by Phoenix Natural Gas: Strand Arts Centre
Educator of the Year sponsored by We’re Sure: Beverley Cripps, Ashfield Girls’ High School
Best Community Project sponsored by the Urban Villages Initiative: Groundwork Northern Ireland
Employer of the Year sponsored by Fleet Financial: Odyssey Bowl
Innovation sponsored by Titanic Belfast, Titanic Foundation and Titanic Quarter: Spectra Sensory Clothing
Business Start-Up sponsored by Belfast City Council: Spectra Sensory Clothing
Business Growth sponsored by Ulster Bank: Belfast Pilates & Physiotherapy
Volunteer of the Year sponsored by Wolseley UK: Pamela Loan, East Belfast Mission
Young Person of the Year sponsored by George Best Belfast City Airport: Coleen Bergantinos, Ashfield Girls’ High School