Coleraine and Ballymoney heroes search

Rachael Rainey (centre), Specsavers Coleraine, at the launch of the 2017 Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards with UTV presenters Pamela Ballantine and Marc Mallet.
Rachael Rainey (centre), Specsavers Coleraine, at the launch of the 2017 Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards with UTV presenters Pamela Ballantine and Marc Mallet.

The 2017 Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards with Specsavers have just been launched and judges are looking for a Coleraine or Ballymoney hero who you think best captures the Spirit of Northern Ireland in 2017.

This annual awards ceremony, which will again be televised by UTV, seeks to honour all those who make a difference across Northern Ireland.

Last year’s overall Spirit of Northern Ireland winner was Davitt Walsh, from the Derry/Donegal border.

Davitt rescued a baby from tragically drowning when the family’s car slipped off the pier in Buncrana after a day out. His quick thinking and immediate action enabled Davitt to rescue baby Rioghnach-Ann from the water when sadly five other members of her family drowned.

The unique Northern Ireland-wide search will give recognition to those whose good deeds have previously gone mostly unnoticed - ordinary people who are doing extraordinary things to help others and people whose uplifting stories of selfless acts will touch the hearts of all who read them.

Coleraine Specsavers Store Director, Judith Ball, said, “We are delighted to be sponsors of the fabulous Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards for the seventh year running.

“Each year we are humbled and inspired by the incredible stories that are received and I have no doubt that this year will be no different. These awards celebrate all that is good about Northern Ireland and give us the opportunity to champion these amazing people and to give them the recognition they so rightly deserve.”

Judges are searching to honour winners across ten categories in total which are now open for nomination. This year’s categories are: Unsung Hero, Overcoming Adversity, Spirit of Youth, 999 Hero, Charity Champion, Spirit of Health, Spirit of Education, Caring Spirit Award, Spirit of Sport and Overall Spirit of Northern Ireland Award.

All those who submit nominations will automatically be entered into a prize draw to win a £150 eyecare voucher and a VIP experience at the awards, including an overnight stay at the Culloden, courtesy of Specsavers.

The grand final for the Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards with Specsavers will take place on Friday, June 16 at the luxurious five-star Culloden Estate & Spa resort in Holywood.

Hosting the awards this year again will be UTV’s Marc Mallett and Pamela Ballantine,

To make a nomination, simply explain in 50-100 words why this person is worthy of a Spirit of Northern Ireland Award and email to spiritofniawards@sundaylife.co.uk or fill in a form available at a local Specsavers store.

The closing date for nominations is Friday 5th May 2017.