The Search Is On For Downpatrick’s Unsung Heroes

The search is on for Downpatrick’s unsung heroes.

The 2018 Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards with Specsavers have just been launched and judges are looking for who you think best captures the Spirit of Northern Ireland in 2018. 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 Coleraine man Willie Gregg, who has raised more than £250,000 to help children orphaned in the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami in the Indian Ocean. This year organisers want your nominations for who you think deserves a Spirit of Northern Ireland Award, by selflessly serving others and being an inspiration to us all.

Specsavers representatives Tony McGinn (left) and Stuart Brown (right) with Spirit of NI presenter Pamela Ballantine and judge Eamonn Holmes.

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. Specsavers Northern Ireland Chairman, Sean McCauley, said: “We are delighted to sponsor the amazing Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards for the eighth consecutive year.

“I know I speak for all of the Specsavers staff across the province that each year we are humbled and inspired by the stories that are received and I’m sure this year will be no different.  These awards celebrate all that is good about Northern Ireland and gives us the opportunity to champion incredible individuals who are so often modest and quiet about the huge difference they make to other peoples’ lives.  Help us to recognise our local unsung heroes by sharing their stories before the closing date in March.”

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 a Special Recognition Award.

Whether for demonstrating a spirit of compassion, neighbourliness, charity, enterprise, courage or devotion, all nominations are welcome. 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 Crowne Plaza Hotel, courtesy of Specsavers.

The grand final for the Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards with Specsavers will take place on Friday, April 20th at the luxurious Crowne Plaza Hotel in Belfast. Hosting the Sunday Life Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards with Specsavers this year again will be UTV’s Marc Mallett and Pamela Ballantine, and just like previous years, the audience will be filled with many local celebrities supporting the event and eager to hear the finalists’ incredible stories.

Soap and drama fans had their pick of household names at last year’s event from the likes of Emmerdale, Coronation Street, Holby City, Game of Thrones and The Fall. Entertainment on the night of the awards this April will be provided by Shane Filan, who was a member of Westlife before launching his own successful solo career.

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:

or fill in a form available at a local Specsavers store in Downpatrick.

The closing date for nominations is Friday 16th March 2018.

Tickets for the gala awards ceremony cost £65 +VAT which includes dinner, table wine and entertainment and can be purchased from JComms, Sylvan House, Belmont Office Park, 232-240 Belmont Road, Belfast, BT4 2AW,

by phone at 028 9076 0066, or emailing:



Unsung Hero: Someone whose great deed or deeds have previously gone unnoticed, but who will have made a major contribution to your life or to your community.

Overcoming Adversity: Someone who has overcome huge personal challenges, whether it is dealing with illness or disability or overcoming problems.

Spirit of Youth: Someone under the age of 18 who should be recognised for their special achievements.

999 Hero: A member of the emergency services who has gone above and beyond the call of duty in their job.

Charity Champion: Someone who has worked tirelessly for a charity or as a fundraiser for many years.

Spirit of Health: A medical professional who has gone the extra mile to improve the health and wellbeing of a patient.

Spirit of Education: This award recognises a truly inspirational teacher who has helped children and young people to fulfil their potential.

Caring Spirit Award: A person, young or old, who has dedicated their time to caring for a friend or family member.

Spirit of Sport: Someone who has made an exceptional contribution to local sport over a number of years.

Special Recognition Award: Someone who the judges feel best represents the Spirit of Northern Ireland by selflessly serving others and being an inspiration to us all.