For months now, SuperValu has been searching for Northern Ireland’s SuperStars; the unsung heroes who go out of their way to do something special for their loved ones, neighbours, work colleagues and communities.
And earlier this month, at a glittering event in Titanic Hotel, Belfast, all 36 finalists had their time to shine when host, Clare McCollum, told a packed room filled with family and friends, exactly why each SuperValu SuperStar was chosen.
“It was an incredibly humbling night”, explained Desi Derby, Marketing Director, Musgrave. “To hear how these “SuperStars” make their communities a better place, was a privilege and we’re delighted to be able to shine a light on them in this way.”
The standard of entries was so high that the judges named joint-second place and joint-third place SuperStars but there was only one winner.
Desi continued: “All 36 of our SuperValu stores across Northern Ireland was represented at the final, so on behalf of all our colleagues and independent retailers I’d like to congratulate each and every one of our SuperStar finalists.”
The 2017 SuperValu SuperStar winner is the incredible, Jasmin Foster (19) from Kells, County Antrim. The judges said: “Amazing Jasmin faced enormous struggles right from birth when she died for fourteen and a half minutes before fighting back to life. The lack of oxygen meant that she now has some learning disabilities and needs to wear two hearing aids. Sadly her condition has led to her being a target of bullies and she has found it hard to make friends among her peers. Therapists and doctors who have met Jasmin down the years find it hard to believe she can walk, talk and live life to the full. But she battled on, left school with seven GCSEs and plans to work with children with disabilities. Her very proud mum Sandra says that Jasmin is simply a ‘miracle’.”
Joint second place went to SuperValu SuperStar, Nataniel Hunter from Derry~Londonderry. The judges said: “A pleasant stroll along the beach turned into a rescue drama when Nataniel and his wife Amy realised three children, aged 10, 11 and 12, had been swept out to sea. The coastguard had already been alerted and were on their way, but Nataniel knew there was no time to lose. He dashed to get a buoyancy aid and raced into the water, swimming out to the terrified kids. Another young man followed and brought the closest child to safety. Nataniel swam on, getting hold of one youngster and throwing the aid to another. A strong swimmer, he brought them both back to the beach. The children were treated in hospital but lived to tell the tale. Nataniel has been praised by the coastguard and of course the families of the young lives he saved that day.”
Joint second place went SuperValu SuperStar, Anita Dennison from Newry. The judges said: “Anita was severely bullied both online and off from ages 11 to 16. Bravely, Anita made the decision to fight back in a positive way. She decided that she would become a voice for the voiceless which has allowed her to completely turn her own life around and the lives of many others. Pressing home the anti-bullying message online and reaching out to those troubled by related mental health issues, Anita has spoken at national and international events and was in America earlier this year as part of her relentless work to combat bullying. Now training to be a Childline counsellor, Anita has been picked as a UK #iWill ambassador, promoting positive social action by working with young people worldwide. She told us she was using her negative past to help as many people as possible.”
Joint third place went to SuperValu SuperStar, Charlie Wright from County Down. The judges said: “Charlie was born with a rare genetic disease – Cryopyrin-Associated Autoinflammatory Syndromes (CAPS for short) which causes joint pain, swelling, headaches and other ailments. He inspires so many people by sharing his story, lobbying MLAs at Stormont and taking part in a host of conferences. He chats with staff and patients on all of his hospital visits. Mum Melanie said ambitious Charlie is often in pain but is not the type to complain. She’s so proud that even though he misses school, he works extra hard and wants to be a doctor when he grows up. Charlie’s mum said: “I have a life-threatening condition that requires Charlie to be a carer too at times. My son has saved my life on a number of occasions.””
Joint third place went to SuperValu SuperStar, Jamie Harkin from Derry~Londonderry. The judges said: “Jamie’s story is one of extreme courage and kindness in the most challenging of circumstances. Poignantly, this exceptional young man was nominated by his mum Trisha, who recently passed away. But the family took the tough decision to proceed with the SuperStars nomination in their mother’s honour.Seven years ago Jamie was diagnosed with blood cancer Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. His late mum told us how, before, during and after an unsuccessful organ transplant Jamie never complained. He went on to set up a wonderful support group called Jamie’s Journey in a bid to give hope to other young people touched by cancer. During his recent exams, the brave young man, whilst taking regular hits of morphine due to the pain, battled on and gained 10As and A*s in his GCSEs. Like many of us the inspiring young man is a Star Wars fan, and after winning every fans dream prize of a custom light sabre, he selflessly raffled it to raise funds for charity.”
Desi concluded: “I’d also like to thank sponsors, Robinsons, Dairylea, Ben & Jerry’s, Persil, and media partners, U105 and The Sun.We are looking forward to next year’s event already when we hope to meet 36 new SuperValu SuperStars.”
Check out SuperValu’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/SuperValuNI, to see photos from the final including photos of all 36 finalists.