Belfast Telegraph

Mum is no ordinary Jo

Woman who cares for those affected by suicide goes into awards semi-final

By John McGurk

North Belfast woman Jo Murphy’s care for those touched by the tragedy of suicide has made her the latest heat winner of the Flybe/Sunday Life Spirit of Northern Ireland awards.

Compassionate Jo is the co-ordinator of the PIPS (Public Initiative for the Prevention of Suicide and Self-harm) project.

It’s her brave hearted work — bringing a ray of light into the lives of those at risk of suicide and vital support for those bereaved by suicide — which warmed the hearts of Sunday Life readers.

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

Jo said: “I am over the moon because I really do believe in this work. I really appreciate this recognition, not for myself but for everyone in PIPS.”

Jo had been a Health and Social Wellbeing Development Officer for the North Belfast Partnership when she was moved by the suicide of a person close to her and a powerful interview with bereaved local dad Philip McTaggart to set up PIPS.

Since PIPS was born in 2003, Jo has visited countless families, given powerful talks and provided a listening ear for those in danger or crushed by the tragedy of those taking their own lives.

Jo told Sunday Life: “I feel very privileged to be able to do this job and to meet such absolutely amazing people.

“It can be very emotional and very draining. But then there will come a delicious moment, no matter how bad a day it has been and I always hold on to that.”

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

Due to the overwhelming number of entries already received for the Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards, no more nominations will be accepted.

A Sunday Life panel is choosing the 40 nominees whose stories will feature in this newspaper. Due to the huge volume of entries, only the stories of those selected can be published.

Each week we feature four unsung heroes with readers voting for the person who best represents the Spirit of Northern Ireland in 2008.

The phone lines are open for you to vote for your favourite nominee until midnight on Tuesday.

Every Sunday we will reveal who topped the phone poll and then open the lines again for the next four nominees. The top ten nominees featured over these weeks then go forward to a semi-final, along with the next ten most popular as voted for by Sunday Life readers.

Out of these top 20 nominee, the public will be asked to vote for their final top ten.

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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