Belfast Telegraph

Sunday Life

Steven shows a fighting spirit

Brave Londonderry teen still helps on family farm after tragic arm accident

By John McGurk

A Derry lad who has refused to let a tragic farming accident hold him back in life, has won the hearts of Sunday Life readers. For inspirational Steven McKinley has won the public vote in the latest round of the Flybe/Sunday Life Spirit of |Northern Ireland Awards.

The 13-year-old Oakgrove Integrated College pupil has overcome a horrific accident on the family farm three years ago.

Sadly Steven lost his left arm, while helping his dad with silage on the McKinley farm, at Ardmore.

Doctors only gave Steven a five per cent chance of surviving the gruesome incident.

However, against all odds, the young boy’s bravery and spirit — along with the superb skills of medical teams at Altnagelvin Hospital and the Belfast Hospital for Sick Children — has turned his life around.

Grandmother, Mabel Armstrong, who nominated Steven for the Flybe/Sunday Life Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards, described her grandson as a “real inspiration to us all”.

Mabel said of her grandson: “This is great news. I am delighted. He is a real inspiration to us all. Nothing holds him back.

“That accident would have knocked most people back. But he was having none of that. He is a wee farmer, through and through. Now he has a wee tractor and he scrapes out the cow shed and works away with his daddy, Mervyn.

“Steven wants to be a farmer when he leaves school. That is all that is in his head.

“He has even started a wee run of chickens, which he looks after and he is selling eggs to his friends and family.”

Steven’s mother Caroline said of her son: “He is thrilled about all of this. He couldn’t get over being nominated by his granny. He is so pleased.”

Steven, who is the second person to win a place in the semi-final of the Flybe/Sunday Life Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards, will feature on the UTV Life TV show tomorrow evening — as will all of our heat winners.

If you know someone in Northern Ireland who you feel deserves to be recognised for their bravery, inspiration or selfless acts of help for others, then there is still time to nominate them.

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

The phone lines are now 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 will 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 nominees, the public will be asked to vote for the final ten. The Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards’ Top Ten will then appear at a fantastic final , hosted by UTV’s Julian Simmons and a mystery famous telly 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 prize!

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

Belfast Telegraph

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