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Every inch our heroes: Our weekly roll call of those stepping up during coronavirus lockdown


AS we get closer to the end of lockdown we haven't forgotten the people with the real spirit of Northern Ireland who have helped get us to this point.

This week we are shining the spotlight on four more everyday heroes and their behind-the-scenes efforts during the coronavirus crisis.

As we can't hold the Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards ceremony due to Covid-19, Sunday Life and Ulster Bank have teamed up to honour them for their vital roles during the pandemic and give each £150 of shopping vouchers, plus a certificate of recognition.

On our judging panel for the Spirit of Northern Ireland Covid-19 Heroes awards initiative, which is replacing the annual awards event for this year, is champion boxer Carl Frampton, Derry Girls star Jamie-Lee O'Donnell and Q Radio presenter Jordan Humphries, along with representatives from Sunday Life and Ulster Bank.

Here are their stand-out stories from all your nominations this week. We will bring you more Covid-19 heroes next week.

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Micky Doherty

Micky Doherty

Micky Doherty

Micky Doherty

Entertainer and full-time auxiliary nurse Micky turned his following in Derry into a one-man directory inquiries and fundraising service when lockdown hit.

As well as working with Covid-19 suffering dementia patients at the Waterside Hospital, Micky was organising deliveries, collections and staging online routines to keep up spirits.

"It was our local MP Mark Durkan who asked me, because I have so many followers, to try to help people if they were struggling with anything," he said.

"It just took off from there, people started donating money and I was doing live videos to entertain as well as tributes to the people who had died due to Covid.

"I'm always a doer, I always like doing things for people, I knew that people were stuck and I could get to people because I had so many followers.

"It's difficult working with dementia patients who have Covid but to get them to smile for 10 minutes in a day made my day because they were so sick but they weren't aware they were sick.

"I'm overwhelmed but I don't take the award for myself, it's for the Derry people."

Julie Nelson

With her day job as a hairdresser on hold thanks to social distancing, Julie Nelson threw herself into helping the housebound, elderly and vulnerable in the town she came to 21 years ago.

Originally from England, Julie has been assisting with getting the likes of prescriptions and food parcels to those in need in Randalstown, Co Antrim.

"We were asked to help the local pharmacy with its deliveries and then it escalated from there," explained Julie.

"Then we were asked to help with the council food box deliveries, it's still very busy with people still getting home deliveries for their prescriptions."

In addition to that, the members of the over-50s club she is involved with raised money through a step challenge, collecting over £1,200.

"They were able to raise quite a bit of money for the NHS and the local JAM (Just A Minute) store," added Julie.

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Angeline with her husband Feargal and children Luke and Eoin. Picture Colm O'Reilly 10-06-2020.

Angeline with her husband Feargal and children Luke and Eoin. Picture Colm O'Reilly 10-06-2020.

Angeline with her husband Feargal and children Luke and Eoin. Picture Colm O'Reilly 10-06-2020.

Angeline Murphy

With her ability known from the BBC's Great British Sewing Bee, Angeline put her skills to a real-life test when the call for PPE (personal protective equipment) went out.

The mother-of-two, who is off on maternity, helped raise more than £30,000 to buy fabric for the NI Scrubs group, including £5,000 from her employer Firmus Energy.

This bought the equivalent of 20km of cloth which she teamed up with Collins Aerospace to have pre-cut into scrubs sets to speed up the sewing process, resulting in an estimated 6,500 pairs.

"I thought if I raise £500 or £1,000 just to start it off but it just took off massively," explained Angeline.

"I suppose I was torturing people every night and contacted businesses for support but it was an open door in most places, everyone was just so good. I don't know how you even call out some heroes because everyone has just been so good."

Leanne Abernethy

From a simple question on Facebook, Leanne gathered a band of 40 volunteers to help the isolated in Bushmills during lockdown.

They were soon ferrying prescriptions, hot meals and other necessities - and even helped giving the village itself a bit of a spring clean.

"I'm a restorative practitioner and part of what I do is monitor communities to see what we can do to support," said Leanne.

"Whenever I saw this coming I thought we need to do something, so I just put it out there and the community came back and said yes.

"I started up a Facebook page and it just went from there. It has been absolutely brilliant, I have been blown away by the support from businesses and the community by donating."

Leanne hopes the group will last beyond the lockdown and coronavirus to live on as a permanent community support group in the town.

"There are people you would know to see in the street are now volunteering and I think there are going to be a lot of friendships after this," explained Leanne who is originally from Dungannon.

"We are going to keep going but it will be at a lesser level through community projects with kids and the village."

To nominate your hero from every walk of life and every corner of the province send a message with details of what they have done to spiritofniawards@ sundaylife.co.uk

Belfast Telegraph