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August 2015

Unsung family heroes were left flying high after our gala awards ceremony in their honour on Monday June 29 at Belfast City Hall.

The Ni4kids Family Awards reward and celebrate the individuals and organisations from across the country who put families first by going way above and beyond the call of duty.

Ni4kids created this special annual event to have an opportunity to say thank you and show our appreciation to the amazing people across Northern Ireland who are the real superheroes and put, not just their own, but other families first. They may not wear capes – but they have made huge sacrifices and gone to great lengths to help others; shown the ultimate dedication to their jobs when working with children and families, demonstrated great courage in the face of adversity or the most difficult of circumstances – and always shown up to help those in need with advice and support.

They are the ones who soared so high in the esteem of friends, families, colleagues and loved-ones, that they were nominated to receive an award for everything that they have done. And in 2015, the awards ceremony was even more awesome in honour of our outstanding hero finalists.

Three finalists in each category and their guests were invited to the gala awards ceremony hosted by Citybeat Breakfast Show presenters Stephen Clements and Cate Conway where the ultimate superhero winners were revealed. The gala event, for guests of all ages, had plenty of thrills and VIP guests joined superheroes Iron Man, Batman, Spiderman, Deadpool and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Michelangelo, who all flocked to the awards to congratulate the winners and join in the celebrations.

The spectacular superhero-themed event included performances from Jesse Jane McParland, the talented nine-year-old martial arts performer from Keady, who shot to fame by making it to the live shows of this year’s Britain’s Got Talent and former winner of The Voice Andrea Begley from Pomeroy who stunned the audience with a selection of songs from her album The Message. Young guests were also treated to Superhero Academy Training and a Frozen Sing-a-long with Queen Elsa and there was a surprise message for the Child of the Year finalists from the popular Nick Jr. show Lily’s Driftwood Bay.

Hundreds of nominations flew in from right across the country – each one astonishing the judges with stories of bravery, courage, strength and determination to battle the odds.

Child of the Year winner little Ben Hawkins (aged five from Portadown) has been through more in his short life than many of us will have to face in a lifetime. Ben suffers from severe Dystonic cerebral palsy and a lot of other complex needs. He is fed into his bowel to reduce vomiting and chest infections caused by aspiration. Unlike other children his age he has never tasted chocolate or an ice cream. But the reason so many people believe Ben is a true little superhero is his determination to fight against the odds and his amazingly positive attitude. His mum Kerry said: ‘He amazes me every day, I am honoured to be his mum.’ Ben’s dad Gordon Hawkins was also a finalist of the ‘Dad of the Year’ award for his unswerving dedication to his wife and son.

Lidl sponsored the Mum of the Year Award and spokesperson Sinead Flynn, corporate social responsibility assistant commented: ‘Each of our finalists this year are so very deserving of this award. We had the pleasure of tapping into their humbling and heart-warming stories and they have really gone above and beyond for their families and their communities. We want to make sure their efforts are recognised.’

The Supermum who picked up the trophy was Tracey McGeehan from Dungannon. Tracey’s young daughter Cassie was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2010 and now Tracey has dedicated herself to fundraising for the charity that helped her through those dark days, Cancer Fund for Children. Michelle Smyth from the organisation told Ni4kids: ‘To date Tracey has raised £28K for the charity and she just keeps going, even though she has four children. She is just amazing.’

Other family superheroes unmasked on the day included Dad of the Year, sponsored by Q Radio, awarded to Aaron Adams from Newtownards When Aaron's daughter Ellsa Alexander-Adams was only seven weeks old she started having ‘episodes’ during which she would have traumatic seizures. After countless hospital visits and almost an entire year waiting for a diagnosis, the family were told that Ellsa has a very rare genetic condition called CDKL5. During this most difficult of times Aaron set up the Hope4Ellsa Facebook Page to reach out to other families, tell Ellsa’s story and constantly fundraise for his daughter to improve her quality of life. As Aaron collected his trophy on stage he dedicated the win to his partner Leanne saying that she was the one who kept him going and that she was a Supermum too!

Elizabeth Wylie from Lisburn was delighted to receive the Grandparent of the Year Award. She was nominated by her son Ian who describes his mum as a ‘remarkable woman who epitomises everything that Ni4kids represents’.

He said: ‘There are some people on earth who are born and remain selfless their entire life. My mum has worked on the school patrol crossing at Killowen Primary School for the past 29 years, standing out in all weather, despite having health ailments that cause her pain and discomfort, to ensure the safety of children. But she also took full time guardianship of her two granddaughters when their parents were no longer able to look after them. She is there for them in every way that matters and thanks to her they have now transformed into wonderful, polite and loving children. This has been an amazing opportunity to show her just once in her lifetime how special she is.’

View the entire event picture gallery, read all our winner and finalist stories and watch the winners’ videos at
click here

2015 Winners & Finalists

Family Visitor Attraction of the Year – Large Category
Sponsored by Ni4kids

Winner: Carnfunnock Country Park
Finalists: Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre & W5

Family Visitor Attraction of the Year – Small Category
Sponsored by Ni4kids

Winner: Plant & Play Wildlife Garden, Bangor
Finalists: Tannaghmore Gardens & Farm Museum, Craigavon & Navan Centre & Fort, Armagh

Family Event of the Year
Sponsored by Odyssey Cinemas Belfast

Winner: NI Science Festival, Belfast & L’Derry
Finalists: Acoustic Picnic, Oh Yeah Music Centre, Belfast & Winter Woolly Walk for Cancer Fund for Children

Family Support Organisation of the Year
Sponsored by Family Media Group

Winner: Cancer Fund for Children
Finalists: Autism Mums Community Support Group, Newry & Mourne area & Phoenix ADHD Project, Coleraine

Family Support Individual Recognition Award
Sponsored by Family Media Group

Winner: Jirinka Ruddy, Craigavon

Coach of the Year
Sponsored by Ni4kids

Winner: Lisa Duffy, Bright Young Things, Belfast
Finalists: Michelle McMurray, Barre-2-Sole Dance Academy, Bangor & Alison Priddle, Sign2Music, Donaghadee

Primary School Teacher of the Year
Sponsored by Forestside

Winner: Mr Andrew Scott, Cranmore Integrated PS, Belfast
Finalists: Mrs Haugh-Graham, Brackenagh West PS, Kilkeel & Mr Sean Maguire, Tummery PS, Omagh

Childcare Award
Sponsored by Employers For Childcare Solutions

Winner: Little Kingdom Kids, Bangor
Finalists: Mother Hubbert’s Day Nursery & After-School Club, Moneyreagh & Teri Sanders, Childminder, Bangor

Family Restaurant of the Year
Sponsored by Ni4kids

Winner: Cafe Bistro at McCartney’s of Moira
Finalists: Greens Restaurant, Roe Park Resort, Limavady, Ramore, Portrush & Slim’s Healthy Kitchen, Belfast

Family Friendly Business of the Year
Sponsored by Citybeat

Winner: Blooming Kids NI, Mid-Ulster
Finalists: Calm Confident Kids, Maghera & Doodlebugs Creative Workshops, Belfast

Mum of the Year
Sponsored by Lidl NI

Winner: Tracey McGeehan, Dungannon
Finalists: Cheryl Corbett, Dromore & Ann Marie McHugh, Belfast

Dad of the Year
Sponsored by Q Radio

Winner: Aaron Adams, Newtownards
Finalists: Geoff Allen, Bangor, Gordon Hawkins, Portadown & Balazs Kecskemeti, Belfast

Child of the Year
Sponsored by Gordons Chemists

Winner: Ben Hawkins, Portadown
Finalists: Liam Gonsalves, Belfast, Caitlin McCartan, Warrenpoint, Liam McKinney, Dromore, Ellie Tang, Ballymena

Grandparent of the Year
Sponsored by Ulster Bank

Winner: Elizabeth Wylie, Lisburn
Finalists: John Carson, Coleraine, Jennifer & John Meredith, Lisburn & Margaret Rice, Crossgar

Your Comments

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