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August 2016

On Monday June 27 it was lights, camera, action at Belfast City Hall for the 2016 Ni4kids Family Awards as we rolled out the red carpet to welcome our superstar guests.

Our spectacular movie-themed awards ceremony, hosted by Q Radio’s Gareth Stewart, featured a huge cast of inspirational family stars from across Northern Ireland, nominated by friends, loved ones, colleagues and customers for everything they do for families and children.

Stars of sport, screen and stage also came out in force to support the event and show their appreciation for the people and organisations who go far above and beyond the call of duty to improve the lives of others. It was Ni4kids’ opportunity to shine a spotlight and applaud the family stars who make huge sacrifices, show the ultimate dedication in their jobs, demonstrate great courage in the face of adversity – and always shown up to help those in need with advice and support.

Finalists in twelve categories and their guests were invited to the Oscar’s styled celebration event in the stunning surroundings of the Great Hall, and as you would expect, there were thrills, laughter, song and dance and of course a few heartfelt and tearful award acceptance speeches.

Ni4kids managing editor Nadia Duncan expressed the thoughts of the entire team, sponsors and VIP guests by commenting: “Our finalists deserve to see their names up in lights on the big screen, and be applauded, as they have risen so high in the esteem of others, that they were nominated to be here today to receive an award. Congratulations to all of our winners and finalists this year – you are all outstanding – and on behalf of families across Northern Ireland, we thank you for everything that you do.”

There were plenty of tears...of laughter at the Specsavers Magic Mirror. Even our most auspicious guests got into the spirit of things, donning some madcap accessories to glam up their outfits for a souvenir picture of the big day. Our guests really felt like real movie stars posing for the paparazzi on the red carpet and also enjoyed a stunning performance of songs from the movies from Peter Corry alongside his special guests, young award-winning dancer Eva-Rose McGall and singing sensation Victoria McClements, a former Ni4kids Child of the Year winner.

A huge special thank you to award sponsors IKEA Belfast, who made our little VIPs day extra special by sponsoring the breakaway playroom area, where younger members of the audience got to try out some fantastic toys and games from their new in-store collection. Even better, after the event, our child of the year finalists and winner all went home with a big bag of those goodies to keep them far from boredom all summer long.

Brian O’Kane, Chairman, Specsavers Northern Ireland commented:
“The entries for our Coach of the Year category were outstanding, it was a very tough call to whittle down the shortlist, but a privilege to read each and every submission. Our three finalists have shown a clear dedication to their crafts; from sports coaching and allowing kids to understand the importance of teamwork, to tutoring individuals and helping them realise their full potential. All our finalists have helped children in Northern Ireland grow with confidence and ability and we wish each of them all the best from everyone at Specsavers in Northern Ireland.”

Lee Cutler, Centre Manager, Forestside, who sponsored the Primary School Teacher of the Year Award said: “Forestside is delighted to once again sponsor the Ni4kids award for Primary School Teacher of the Year. Here at Forestside we work very closely with primary schools in our catchment area through the Forestside Life programme and see firsthand the outstanding calibre of primary school teachers supporting our children through their most formative years. Our customers are passionate about the NI educational system and are delighted that we can help put the spotlight on the amazing work that our primary teachers do. We know that the judges had an incredibly tough job selecting the winner from such a talent-packed field from all across NI but our overall winner is someone very special indeed.”

Foster Care Associates, sponsored the Family Visitor Attraction of the Year Award. Marketing Coordinator Nicola Lambert remarked: “Foster Care
Associates have been delighted to be part of the Ni4kids Awards 2016 and
sponsoring the award for Family Visitor Attraction of the Year has been
a pleasure. We feel that spending quality time exploring new things,
revisiting favourite places and embarking on exciting journeys is what
encourages development, confidence and enthusiasm towards learning
in children and young people. Congratulations to all the finalists and
winners this year!”

Ni4kids would like to express our sincerest thanks to everyone who made this event possible:

Forestside * Specsavers * Foster Care Associates * Q Radio * Gordons Chemists * Ikea Belfast * Odyssey Cinemas Belfast * Belfast City Council * Gareth Stewart * The Judging Panel * The Minister for Education * The Lord Mayor of Belfast * Dame Mary Peters * Peter Corry * Victoria McClements * Eva-Rose McGall* Rita FitzGerald * Martin Lynch * Olivia Nash * Tim McGarry* Corish Productions * Posh Nosh Catering * Helen Savage, Precious Photography * Production House * Luce Balloons * Robin Elliott * William Caulfield * Ni4kids readers, Facebook followers and everyone who made a nomination! * And finally...our amazing winners and finalists who are an inspiration to us all and make us proud to be from this part of the world, each and every one of you!

2016 Ni4kids Winners & Finalists

Sponsored by Gordons Chemists
Winner: Grainne Ashe, Belfast

This amazing mum took centre stage for the judging panel who described her as an outstanding lady, doing so much for her own and other families by starting up Northern Ireland’s first Adams Camp for children with autism.

Finalists: Laura Casey, Lurgan
Leigh Dunn, Ballybogey
Julie Hull, Lisburn

(L-R) Grainne Ashe, Rose Ashe & playwright Martin Lynch.

Sponsored by Q Radio
Winner: Gerard Casey, Dungannon

A true inspiration to his children, the judging panel felt that this father has been a tower of strength to his family. Dads like this make the world a better place.

(L-R) Gerard Casey & Ryan A, Q Radio.

Finalists: Henry McTasney, Belfast & Ivan Mullan, Limavady

Sponsored by Ni4kids
Winner: Catherine Ferns, Newry

The judging panel felt that this grandmother is quite simply inspirational, someone who is the absolute rock of their family who faces so many challenges, but just keeps going.

(L-R) Judith Gillespie CBE, Catherine Ferns, Diane Cowan & Gary Hamilton, Family Media Group.

Finalists: Julie Anna Doyle, Belfast & Elsie Sloan, Lambeg

Sponsored by Ni4kids
Winner – Lucy Parke, Castlewellan

This award went to a very brave little girl who is living with an extremely difficult condition but who is described as a ray of sunshine. Lucy has a very rare illness called Progeria, and is the only person in Ireland with the genetic disorder in which for every one year of her life, her body ages eight years.

Ellsa Alexander-Adams, Newtownards
Amy Brennan, Belfast
Xander Burrows, Banbridge
Aimee Hughes, L/Derry

Sponsored by Foster Care Associates
Winner: Slieve Gullion Forest Park – The Giant’s Lair, Newry

Finalists: The Jungle NI, Magherafelt & Rosepark Farm, Ballymoney
This venue impressed both families and the judges for helping children believe that indeed there is still magic in the world, created within beautiful, natural surroundings with no cost for families to visit.

Image: (L-R) Political commentator and journalist Alex Kane, Darren Rice, Ring of Gullion, Councillor Gillian Fitzpatrick, Newry, Mourne and Down District Council & Ciara Doyle, Foster Care Associates.

Sponsored by Odyssey Cinemas Belfast
Winner: Belfast BabyDay, Replay Theatre Company

What impressed the judging panel most about this new arrival to the family events calendar was the celebration of child development and its cross-community ethos.

Finalists: A Night on Broadway, Moneyrea Primary School & RSPB’s Big Wild Sleepout

(L-R) Emer Dorris, Odyssey Cinemas Belfast, Former Artistic Director of Replay Theatre Company and Director of BabyDay Anna Newell & Lord Mayor of Belfast Alderman Brian Kingston.

Sponsored by Family Media Group

Winner: PEAT NI
The judges were overwhelmed by the heartwarming nominations received for this charity and the incredible way that they support families changing the lives of individual children forever.

Finalists: Down’s Syndrome Association & The Lighthouse Trust, Donaghadee

(L-R) Actress Olivia Nash, Stephen Gallagher and Nicola Booth, PEAT NI & actor Tim McGarry.

Sponsored by Family Media Group
Winner: Eithne Connolly, Home Start, Omagh

Mum Karen Colgan-Guy from Omagh said in her nomination for Home Start volunteer Eithen; ‘Without her help I really don’t know where I would be today. She came and volunteered her time every week to come in and talk to me about whatever was going on in my life and gave me great advice. My children totally love her and without her and Home Start, I would more than likely still be in a dark hole struggling to find my way out.’

(L-R) Karen Colgan, Eithne Connolly & UTV Presenter Rita Fitzgerald.

Sponsored by Specsavers
Winner: Greg Brennan, 2nd Holywood Scout Group

The Specsavers Coach of the Year Award went to a dedicated Scout leader who impressed the judging panel by his commitment and quiet dedication for over 40 years. Mum, Angela Atkinsonwho nominated Greg said, ‘The boys just adore him and a big reason why the Scouts is still running after all these years is down to coaches like him.’

(L-R) Brian O’Kane, Chairman Specsavers in Northern Ireland, Greg Brennan & Olympic Gold Medalist Dame Mary Peters.

Finalists photos:
Ciara Faloona, Playball NI
Michael Jackson, East Belfast Football Club

Sponsored by Forestside
Winner: Fiona McGoldrick, Loughview Integrated Primary School, Belfast

L-R) Lee Cutler, Centre Manager, Forestside, Fiona McGoldrick & Minister for Education Peter Weir MLA. The judging panel were particularly impressed by this dedicated teacher who has made a huge difference to one little vulnerable boy and who really does go the extra mile by giving up her weekends to get kids active.

Finalists: Elaine Aiken, Maghaberry Primary School
Yvonne Finnegan, St Brigid’s Primary School, Downpatrick
Ashleigh Hall, Andrews Memorial Primary School, Comber

Sponsored by Ni4kids
Winner: Slim’s Healthy Kitchen, Belfast

The judging panel felt this family restaurant stood out for its efforts promoting healthy eating from a young age and offering families an alternative menu for young diners.

Finalists: Café Nosh, Dundonald & IKEA, Belfast
(L-R) Kate Magill, Slim’s Healthy Kitchen, Heavenly Tasty Organics Managing Director Shauna McCarney-Blair & Stuart Thom, Slim’s Healthy Kitchen

Sponsored by Ni4kids
Winner: Keith Kennedy, Childminder, Belfast

The winner of the 2016 childcare award, greatly impressed the judging panel by building wonderful relationships, not only with the children he cares for, but also with parents too. This nomination also stood out for a man who is breaking the glass ceiling in a traditionally female career.

Finalists: Happy Days Afterschool, Belfast & Happy Days Community Childcare, Ballymoney

(L-R) Pauline Leeson, CEO Children in Northern Ireland, Keith Kennedy & Mary Roulston Principal of Millennium Integrated Primary School and a former Woman of the Year in Education.

Sponsored by IKEA Belfast
Winner: SENsations Learning Support

The judging panel were very impressed by the huge volume of excellent nominations received for this business which is testament to the empowerment that it gives to parents to help them cope, and where every child matters.

Finalists: Debbie Doolittle’s Wild Life, Antrim & Sensations Play Centre, Banbridge
(L-R) Christine Gregg, IKEA Belfast, Dr Clare Caughey, SENsations Learning Support & comedian William Caulfield.

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