Life-savers, fundraising stars and community heroes recognised at SuperValu Superstars Awards
Six inspiring individuals from across Northern Ireland were awarded SuperStar status in Belfast this week, with the return of the third annual SuperValu SuperStars Awards.
The popular initiative recognises those who had gone beyond the call of duty to help people and communities in need. Almost 30 local heroes were shortlisted within the categories of Young SuperStar, Fundraising SuperStar, Unsung SuperStar, Community Group SuperStar and Social Enterprise SuperStar.
From life-savers to inspiring caregivers, volunteers, community activists and fantastic fundraisers, the shortlist shone the spotlight on the people that have gone above and beyond to make a difference in communities across Northern Ireland.
The dazzling SuperValu SuperStars finalists’ ceremony was hosted by TV personality Pamela Ballantine at Titanic Hotel on Thursday 21 November.
The SuperValu SuperStars Winners 2019
Kaitlyn McNally (14) from Randalstown was named Young SuperStar. Kaitlyn provided support as a Young Carer to her best friend Mary, who suffered a brain injury as a result of a traffic accident in 2017 and requires constant care.
In a very competitive category, Brian Doherty from Glarryford clinched the Fundraising SuperStar title. Brian who is registered blind, raised almost £20,000 for Guide Dogs NI through fundraising activities including a 50-mile sponsored walk.
The Unsung SuperStar gong went to Gary Trew from Bangor, a single foster carer and voluntary leader of the Antrim Gateway Club, who dedicated his time for over 33 years to support those with learning difficulties through sport, leisure and social opportunities.
Patricia McConnell, from Carnlough claimed the Community Group SuperStar award. The Co. Antrim woman has made a huge contribution to the continuation of the Carnlough Community Association over the past 14 years, including the organisation of summer schemes, liaison with local primary schools and various heritage projects.
Finally, Julie Graham from Dundonald received the Social Enterprise SuperStar award in recognition for her contribution to Right Reasons in Dundonald, a local cafe facilitated by staff with learning difficulties. Julie trains all of the staff and goes above and beyond to ensure that they gain the skills required to seek future employment.
In addition, Deirdre Fegan from SuperValu Lisburn was honoured with the Action Cancer SuperStar award for her work in helping to raise cash for Action Cancer. As store fundraising champion, Deirdre goes above and beyond to make sure the store raises much needed funds each year.
The overall winner, Gary Trew from Bangor walked away with £1,000 for himself and a £1,000 donation to a registered charity of his choice. All other finalists received SuperValu vouchers.
Pamela Ballantine, awards host and judge; Gary Trew, Overall SuperValu SuperStar 2019 and Brendan Gallen, Head of Marketing SuperValu NI
Brendan Gallen, Head of Marketing, Musgrave NI said: “With SuperValu SuperStars, we set out to uncover and recognise remarkable individuals, including adults, children, community groups and people that have gone beyond the call of duty. The competition was extremely tough; each and every finalist should be very proud of their achievements. Our congratulations go to all of our winners, who are very deserving of their newfound SuperStar status.”
Judge and host of SuperValu SuperStars, Pamela Ballantine, said: “I am thrilled to once again to be part of SuperValu SuperStars, an initiative which rewards local heroes for making contributions to communities right across Northern Ireland. It was so inspiring to hear the stories of unsung heroes and the incredible work being done by children and adults that might otherwise have gone unrewarded. It was an honour to meet these inspirational individuals and to see them receive such well-deserved recognition for their achievements.”
SuperValu SuperStars media partners are The Sun and U105. The initiative is sponsored by Action Cancer, Balkan Holidays, Denny, Dove, Kinder Ice Cream, Philadelphia and RiverRock.
Winners and finalists for the SuperValu SuperStars Awards 2019 include:
Action Cancer SuperStar
- Winner: Deirdre Fegan from SuperValu Lisburn was honoured with the Action Cancer SuperStar award for her work in helping to raise cash for Action Cancer. As store fundraising champion, Deirdre goes above and beyond to make sure the store raises much needed funds each year.
- Winner: Kaitlyn McNally (14) from Randalstown provided support as a Young Carer to her best friend Mary, who suffered a brain injury as a result of a traffic accident in 2017 and requires constant care.
Young SuperStar Finalists:
- Jack Mulvenna (7) from Dunmurry came up with the idea to create a memory book to give comfort to his friend, whose father has passed away. Assisted by his teacher, Jack dedicated his free time to the creation of this book.
- Abbie Hill (8) from Larne, has been shortlisted for her contribution to the environment through Larne Renovation Generation.
- Gouri Riya Chugh (16) from Derry city, a student of Thornhill College demonstrated community spirit in fostering cultural diversity, tackling racism and enhancing civic pride within the local Indian community.
- Sophie Mills (14) from Ballynahinch, who is registered blind, has demonstrated a strong desire to help others with a number of fundraising endeavours, which include a fundraising total of £850 for the Little Princess Trust.
- Ellie Rutledge (16) from Enniskillen, a gymnast and volunteer at her local Splitz Gymnastics started her volunteering journey as part of the club’s leadership academy. After an injury to her wrist, Ellie started to focus more on her volunteer role and has since become a role model for her peers.
- Winner: Brian Doherty from Glarryford, who is registered blind, raised almost £20,000 for Guide Dogs NI through fundraising activities including a 50-mile sponsored walk.
Fundraising SuperStar Finalists:
- Emma Graham from Coleraine, who dedicates her time as a dance teacher for ‘Strictly’ fundraising events in the community, has raised £30,000 in this year alone.
- Armagh woman, Sonia Ritchie led a fundraising initiative to raise £1000 for the Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice, by running, walking or crawling 1,000 miles before her 50th birthday in September 2019. Not only was she successful in achieving her target mileage, but she also exceeded her target, raising more than £11,000 for the charity.
- Greg McLaughlin from Claudy organised a charity barn dance, raising over £30,000 for the Foyle Hospice and Children in Crossfire.
- Terry Geddis, also from Coleraine organised a series of cycling fundraisers in memory of his late son, Zachary Geddis, who was lost to suicide in 2017.
- Lily Devlin from Portaferry, a volunteer therapist at Daisy Lodge in Newcastle has raised over £3000 for the Children’s Cancer Fund with a variety of fundraisers
- Cormac McMullan from Castlewellan raised over £150,000 to allow his neighbour to access specialist treatment for cancer not available through the NHS.
- Winner: Gary Trew from Bangor, a single foster carer and voluntary leader of the Antrim Gateway Club dedicated his time for over 33 years to support those with learning difficulties through sport, leisure and social opportunities.
Unsung SuperStar Finalists:
- Jennie Morrison from Whitehead, is a dedicated volunteer, giving her time to many good causes in her local community, including regular shifts at the NI Hospice and Mid & East Antrim Animal sanctuary.
- Sarah O’Connor from Glengormley, a member of the Belfast deaf community and busy mum has become a lifeline and confidant for two elderly deaf ladies in the community as part of a befriending scheme.
- Willie Lowry from Titans Kickboxing Club in Limavady was nominated for his dedication to the running of the club over the past 20 years.
- Shannon Brown from Crossgar, a volunteer with the Cancer Fund For Children, has dedicated hundreds of hours in the past two years to help young people impacted by cancer
- Tommy McKelvey from Cookstown was nominated for his community spirit, demonstrated through the support of local sporting clubs and for his work with Women’s Aid, where he not only helps distressed women and children in the area find safehouses but also sources basic living supplies to help them to settle in.
- Jennifer Hanna from Enniskillen has been nominated in recognition of her dedication to the running of local acrobatics club, Splitz Gymnastics. Jennifer, who runs the club as a not-for-profit venture, offers her time as head coach and has tirelessly applied for grant funding to ensure the continuation of the club.
- Jeanette Williamson from Lisburn donated a kidney to her daughter’s future father-in-law. She made the selfless offer at the Christmas dinner table in 2018 and in January began getting tested. Earlier this year, Jeanette was part of a paired donation, with a successful transplant taking place on 12th June – the family say they will be ‘eternally grateful for her gift.’
Community Group SuperStar
- Winner: Patricia McConnell, from Carnlough has made a huge contribution to the continuation of the Carnlough Community Association over the past 14 years, including the organisation of summer schemes, liaison with local primary schools and various heritage projects.
Community Group Finalists:
- Aine Sloan is founder of Downpatrick Autism Family Support Group, an organisation that offers support, training for parents and alternative therapies to those diagnosed with autism.
- Brothers Reece and Jordan McNamara from Dromore have been instrumental in helping their parents to set up of local charity FASD Aware NI, which raises awareness of Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders.
- Karen McGuigan from Draperstown has been recognised for her contribution to mental health charity, STEPS.
Social Enterprise SuperStar
- Winner: Recognised for her contribution to Right Reasons in Dundonald, Julie Graham runs a local cafe facilitated by staff with learning difficulties. Julie trains all of the staff and goes above and beyond to ensure that they gain the skills required to seek future employment.
- Marie Marin from Dunmurry, CEO of Employers for Childcare, has over 20 years’ experience as a Social Entrepreneur. She is the founder of local Social Enterprise Employers for Childcare which is a successful, profitable business that has, since 2008, invested almost £7 million into our charitable work. Marie received an OBE in 2013 for her services to Social Enterprise. Her enthusiasm for social enterprise is at the heart of everything she does.