Belfast Telegraph

Sunday Life

Betty’s orr the merrier

Shankill school principal works tirelessly to help familes make better lives for themselves

By Gail Edgar

Betty Orr’s determination to bring new life and opportunities to the people of the Shankill has made her the penultimate heat winner of the Flybe/Sunday Life Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards.

School principal Betty arrived at Edenbrooke Primary School in Tennent Street just months before the Shankill bombing ripped through the close knit community in October 1993.

Since then she has worked tirelessly to give Shankill youngsters and their families a better chance in life.

Her husband John, who nominated her, said: “Betty helped children cope with the Shankill bomb, the loyalist feuds and the riots of 2005. She even helped mediate during the feud.”

Hard-working Betty was also a driving force behind acquiring a £200,000 floodlit sports pitch for the school named after famous past pupil, ex-Manchester United star Norman Whiteside.

She has also introduced breakfast clubs at the school and a host of other educational initiatives — and has even persuaded the likes of Cherie Blair, Peter Mandelson, Peter Hain and Lawrie Sanchez to visit the kids at Edenbrooke.

Along with other local principals, go-getting Betty is currently campaigning to make the Shankill into a special education action zone.

Betty topped the telephone poll in week nine of our search for someone who best represents the true selfless spirit of men, women and children across our province.

She said: “I’m flabbergasted to have been selected. I’m very flattered and honoured.

“I feel unworthy because to me I’m just doing my job. The kids here deserve the best.

“What we want is more qualified people to deal with specific issues.”

As the penultimate Flybe/Sunday Life Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards heat winner, Betty will be featured on the UTV Life show later this week.

Today we feature our final four unsung heroes with readers voting for the person they think best represents the Spirit of Northern Ireland.

This week is your last chance to vote to select a semi-finalist.

The phone lines are now open for you to vote for your favourite nominee until midnight on Tuesday and next Sunday we will reveal who topped the phone poll.

The top ten nominees featured over these weeks will progress to a semi-

final, along with the next ten most popular as voted for by Sunday Life readers over the past few months.

Out of these top 20 nominees, the public will be asked to vote for their final top ten when the voting lines re-open on December 28.

The Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards’ top ten will appear at a fantastic final hosted by UTV’s Julian Simmons and

a top soap star at the Ramada Hotel, Belfast on January 20.

A panel of judges will then choose the Flybe/Sunday Life Spirit of Northern Ireland Award winner who will receive a Peugeot 107 car as their prize.

The person who nominated the winner will win a pair of Flybe flight tickets.

Belfast Telegraph

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