Belfast Telegraph

Sunday Life

This mum is numero una

People power campaigner and parent-child worker is latest heat winner who goes forward to awards semi-final

By John McGurk

New school campaigner and parent-child worker Una Gilmore is the latest heat winner of the Flybe/Sunday Life Spirit of Northern Ireland awards.

The Kircubbin mum of five topped the telephone vote poll in heat six of our competition to find someone who epitomises the good-hearted work, bravery and inspiration of men, women and children in our province.

Una was one of the main people behind a ‘people power’ campaign to bring a new cross-community school to the Strangford Lough village.

And the Lifestart organisation manager is a supreme example of the old saying — if at first you don’t succeed...

Because Una revealed that it took TEN years for the villagers’ dream to make Kircubbin Community Nursery School a reality.

Admitted Una: “There were very key times when the committee felt that it could go no further, but other times when the committee took things up and really moved it forward. So, it was very much a team effort.

“It was ten years of canvassing and overcoming one barrier after another. The school opened in temporary accommodation three years ago. But a new purpose built building only opened one year ago.”

Una has also worked with the parent-child development programme, Lifestart for 11 years and is its project manager.

And the motivated mum is also raising five children with her local publican husband and renowned charity fundraiser John.

Self-evidently, kids play a central role in Una’s life — at home and at work.

Added Una: “I suppose when I first moved to the area, I didn’t know many people. It was myself and a friend who started the first parent and toddler group in Kircubbin.

“Really my interest has grown from that because it became a real centre for community development.

“An awful lot of things developed from that actual experience — not just for myself, but for a lot of other people, as well.”

Una said that she was “absolutely delighted” to top last week’s Flybe/Sunday Life Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards poll and paid tribute to the efforts of all local people involved in the school campaign.

As the latest Spirit of Northern Ireland heat winner, Una is due to feature on the UTV Life show this week — as will all of our semi-finalists.

Please note that, due to the overwhelming response to the competition, no further entries will be accepted for this year’s event.

A Sunday Life panel will continue the process of choosing 40 nominees whose stories will feature in the paper. Due to the huge volume of entries, only the stories of the selected nominees 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 ten most popular, as voted for by Sunday Life readers.

Out of these top 20 nominees, 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 UTE Julian Summons 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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