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Just one day until the Spirit of NI Awards

Ther's a night of high spirits, tears of happiness and joy and heart-warming tales — as we celebrate all that is best about the fantastic folk of Northern Ireland.

Tomorrow night will be extra special for 15 reasons — the magnificent men, women and children, who are our Sunday Life Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards with Specsavers finalists.

From Belfast to Banbridge; Dundonald to Dromore and across to Derry, it is these ordinary people doing extraordinary things who will be the true stars at our gala awards ceremony at the Ramada Plaza, Shaw’s Bridge, Belfast tomorrow night.

UTV’s The Seven Thirty Show presenters Tina Campbell and Malachi Cush will co-host the second Sunday Life Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards with Specsavers.

Guests will enjoy the terrific singing talent of down-to-earth telly star Stacey Solomon as well as the spectacular dance routines of homegrown troupe, Razzle Dazzle.

Celebrity guests paying tribute to our finalists include singing stars The Priests, ex-Hollyoaks actor Gerard McCarthy, West End musical actress Niamh Perry, singer Peter Corry, John Linehan aka May McFettridge, UTV’s Julian Simmons, Cool FM DJ Pete Snodden and current and former Miss Northern Irelands Lori Moore and Alison Campbell.

Sunday Life columnists including Gemma Garrett, Ivan Little, Big T and Dan Gordon, who will be accompanied by fellow Give My Head Peace stars Tim McGarry and Damon Quinn, will also be in attendance.

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Friends reuniting will be Bangor-born former MP Lembit Opik with his fellow I’m A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here contestant —winner Stacey Solomon. Lembit will be accompanied by girlfriend Merily McGivern.

You too can have the time of your life, with Sunday Life as some public tickets are left for the Sunday Life Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards.

So, pay tribute to our ‘hometown’ heroes and heroines and enjoy a fantastic night of food and fun too. Tickets costing £55, including a four-course dinner, with wine and top class entertainment are available from JPR on 90760066 or at

Here is a reminder of the amazing people who will shine most brightly at the Sunday Life Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards with Specsavers. Our finalists in the three categories are:


Figure this! This 14-year-old Dundonald girl is a dedicated, award-winning ice princess, with a glittering future in front of her.
Dempsey has won dozens of gold, silver and bronze ice skating competition medals and is currently training with ITV Dancing On Ice winner, Maria Fillipov.

She’s the hip north Belfast girl making all the right moves in the world of dancing, after a hip bone operation!
The talented teenager’s love for hip hop dancing and singing has brought her award after award — and helped her cope with several health problems.

This Saintfield girl is setting her sights on becoming a real life ‘angel’ — as a trainee nurse this autumn.
While still at school she took care of her seriously ill diabetic mum, Margaret, after surviving a stroke, coma and leg amptutation.

Nicknamed the ‘Sunshine Boy’ by his mum Jane, this 12-year-old Dromore boy who lives with the rare genetic condition, Apert Syndrome, has amazed everyone with his determination to live as normal a life as possible.
In spite of serious malformations of his face, skull, hands and feet, the music and soccer-loving lad has learned to play piano!


The former soldier who was paralysed in the Bosnian war zone in the early Nineties, has become a brilliant competition-winning Action Man.
The Dundonald man has shown true grit and indomitable spirit as a globe trotting tennis and basketball champ. With steely determination, his sights are now firmly set on the 2010 Paralympics.

This breast and brain cancer survivor has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for research and support groups.
The Ballinamallard woman put others first, as she endured ongoing treatment to tackle her serious health problems.

The north Belfast man knows only too well about the scourge of suicide in our society — after losing his beloved teenage son, Philip Jr in 2003.
Since then Philip Sr has been at the forefront in the provision of suicide prevention training and is currently boss of PIPS Programmes.

This Carrickfergus woman has a passion to help others, especially young people. Nicola, who lost her right leg due to a bone tumour at 16, is involved in cancer support, youth and church groups.

She’s the evergreen marathon woman of fundraising, awareness raising and support for people living with multiple sclerosis.
Ann set up the Action MS charity in 1976 and remains at the heart of its services, helping the estimated 4,500-5,000 people living with the disease affecting nerve cells.


The loving legacy of this young cystic fibrosis sufferer lives on — more than 4,000 miles away in Africa.
For the Dollingstown girl who passed away last October dedicated her final years to raising £120,000 to build the Hidden Treasure School in Uganda and provide a well for the village in Maya.

He is a marathon man when it comes to a lifelong devotion to supporting youth football.
The south Belfast septuagenarian is still actively involved in cross-community soccer — decades after co-founding the world famous Milk Cup and South Belfast Youth League.

This specialist children’s renal nurse brings a breath of fresh air into the lives of countless kids.
For Hazel helps to give a new lease of life to young transplant patients here — as manager of the Belfast Children’s Team in this summer’s British Transplant Games.

She goes all out to make sure that there is always a ‘happy tail’ to tell about discarded dogs who come her way.
Animal lover Gillian runs The Doghouse Sanctuary from her Banbridge home — ensuring that dogs do not meet untimely ends in the local pound.

This Derry man reaches out to vulnerable young people and adults — in his valuable job as an outreach counsellor with the Zest voluntary organisation.
Gary came through some tough times of his own — overcoming a serious battle with the booze — to help people in the north west in danger of hurting themselves or taking their own lives.

Flying the flag for peace in an extraordinary way and in a most extraordinary place is this world renowned Belfast artist.
Raymond dreamed up the Belfast Flags of Hope project — which aims to drape the world’s longest piece of bunting close to the infamous ‘Peace Wall’ in the city before the end of this summer.

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