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Grand night planned for stars to applaud Mary Peters

By Jim Gracey

Forty years on from this country's greatest Olympic achievement, a glittering array of star names will assemble in Belfast to mark the anniversary of Dame Mary Peters' gold medal success.

Exactly 100 days from now, September 3 marks the historic moment Dame Mary dramatically claimed Great Britain's only athletics gold of the 1972 Munich Games in the pentathlon — and it remains Northern Ireland's only Olympic track and field gold.

The achievement lifted a province traumatised by the worst year of the Troubles, led to the creation of the Mary Peters Track and Mary Peters Trust, both still aiding the development of young athletes, both practically and financially.

Now it is Dame Mary's turn to be honoured — and her unique milestone will be celebrated by a spectacular evening of entertainment on Sunday, September 2 at Belfast’s Grand Opera House where the original Golden girl of Nothern Ireland sport, now aged 72, recently also collected a Belfast Telegraph Making A Difference award.

With the title ‘Mary Peters ... 40 Golden Years', the gala event, sponsored by Flybe, will be attended by a host of sporting and media celebrities.

Confirmed guests include, among others, Eamonn Holmes, Gloria Hunniford, Paddy Kielty, Brian Kennedy, Dame Kelly Holmes, Tessa Sanderson, Denise Lewis, Duncan Goodhew and Sir Steve Redgrave.

A delighted Dame Mary reflected: “On September 3, 1972 all my dreams came true.

“It was a day I’ll never forget and one that seems as if it were only yesterday.

“In the intervening years that golden moment and my involvement in all aspects of sport both on and off the track have brought me so many opportunities and introduced me to so many wonderful people for which I’ll always be grateful.

“I’m really looking forward to remembering good times and enjoying a fabulous evening of entertainment with a large number of friends, old and new, at the Grand Opera House in 100 days time.

“With the help of our sponsor Flybe, who will be transporting the guests from all over the UK, the evening will also be benefiting a charity very close to my heart, the Mary Peters Trust.”

And with Flybe helping make the evening possible, the airline's Regional General Manager, Andrea Hayes, added: “It is a great privilege for us to support this unique event and the wonderful work of the Mary Peters Trust which enables young sportsmen and women to reach their true potential.

“As Dame Mary celebrates a 40 year milestone we at Flybe are celebrating 10 years of our brand this year, so it is a fitting partnership.

“Dame Mary has served Northern Ireland so well in so many roles and as an airline we are also very proud to serve the province, delivering UK wide connectivity and making flying better for all our customers.”

A limited number of tickets have been made available for general sale through the Grand Opera House website or directly at the Box Office in Belfast’s Great Victoria Street.

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