Over 400 sporting guests, Mary Peters Trust supporters and local businesses including event sponsor Power NI, gathered at Titanic Belfast tonight (Friday 31st May) to mark the 80th Birthday of Lady Mary Peters and her contribution to the sporting and community life of Northern Ireland.

The gala black-tie dinner is one of a series of events organised to raise cash for ‘Mary’s Race to a Million’ campaign. Launched two years ago, the initiative is more than two thirds of the way to reaching its £1million target which will safeguard funding and support for Northern Ireland’s future high-performance sports people and medal hopefuls.

Lady Mary was given a night to remember with current and past Mary Peters Trust awarded athletes presenting a specially choregraphed performance alongside stunning local choir Adoro – both created by top musical director and performer Ashley Fulton. Belfast songwriter and singer Brian Kennedy gave a special rendition of ‘Love, Life, Happiness’ and surprise sporting guests who travelled from across the water included decathlon star Daley Thompson and rower, Katherine Grainger – both Olympic gold medallists. Former 400 metres star Joslyn Hoyte-Smith who collected bronze at the 1980 Moscow Olympics also flew over to support Lady Mary.

Local sporting talent present to wish Lady Mary ‘Happy Birthday’ included rugby legends Willie-John McBride and Mike Gibson along with a representative squad from Ulster’s 1999 European Cup winning rugby team. Joining them were pole-vaulter and decathlete, Commonwealth Games gold medallist Mike Bull, Ulster and Ireland rugby player Darren Cave who recently announced his retirement from the game and top NI football striker Gerry Armstrong.

Also lending their support were GAA and netball star Caroline O’Hanlon, former Ireland rugby players Nigel Carr and Trevor Ringland, double Olympic bronze boxer Paddy Barnes, fours time gold Paralympic athlete Michael McKillop and triple Sam Maguire winning Down GAA player, Sean O’Neill.

Other stars attending from the world of TV and radio were Pamela Ballantine, Mark Carruthers and Pete Snodden along with award winning artist Colin Davidson.

Hosted by television presenter Claire McCollum, the packed gala evening featured a series of fundraising auctions and ballots including a locally crafted and first of a new range of guitars branded Sheeran by Lowden and made by Downpatrick based Lowden Guitars.  Also up for grabs is a special Lunns jewellery box with the winning key opening up a sparkling £1000 David Yurman necklace for the lucky winner donated by Belfast jewellery store, Lunns. For travel and motorbike lovers Feherty Travel provided a £1000 Kuoni trip and up for auction was a Jonathan Rea donated two day VIP World Superbike access pass to an upcoming WSB round of the winners choice.  Also going under the gavel in a silent auction was a Colin Davidson preparatory sketch for his Portrait of Mary.

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Over 400 sporting guests, Mary Peters Trust supporters and local businesses including event sponsor Power NI, gathered at Titanic Belfast tonight (Friday 31st May) to mark the 80th Birthday of Lady Mary Peters and her contribution to the sporting and community life of Northern Ireland . . The gala black-tie dinner is one of a series of events organised to raise cash for ‘Mary’s Race to a Million’ campaign. Launched two years ago, the initiative is more than two thirds of the way to reaching its £1million target which will safeguard funding and support for Northern Ireland’s future high-performance sports people and medal hopefuls. Lady Mary was given a night to remember with current and past Mary Peters Trust awarded athletes presenting a specially choregraphed performance alongside stunning local choir Adoro – both created by top musical director and performer Ashley Fulton. Belfast songwriter and singer Brian Kennedy gave a special rendition of ‘Love, Life, Happiness’ and surprise sporting guests who travelled from across the water included decathlon star Daley Thompson and rower, Katherine Grainger – both Olympic gold medallists. Former 400 metres star Joslyn Hoyte-Smith who collected bronze at the 1980 Moscow Olympics also flew over to support Lady Mary. . . #marypeters #olympics #belfast #northernireland #celebrate #80thbirthday

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To highlight Lady Mary’s lifetime commitment to sport throughout Northern Ireland a bespoke micro-museum of photographs and memorabilia was on show to illustrate and reflect on Mary’s life and contribution to sport locally and globally. Highlights included Mary’s winning top and shoes from the 1972 Munich Olympic Games, a replica Olympic gold medal, renowned artist Colin Davidson’s portrait of Mary and photographs of Mary with past and present sporting greats and musicians such as the Rolling Stones.

Stephen McCully, Power NI managing director congratulated Lady Mary on her special birthday saying, “The team at Power NI feels very privileged to be working with Lady Mary and the Mary Peters Trust over the past six months. In supporting the Trust in various fundraising events, including Mary’s 80th birthday gala dinner, we are thrilled to also provide funding support for three young local athletes, Conn Nagle, Erin McConnell and Ryan Devine and help boost the momentum the Trust has consistently achieved over the years.

“At Power NI we have been so inspired by Lady Mary’s work and the difference financial support can make to the lives of aspiring athletes that we will be extending our support for the Trust in order to invest in more young sports people who have their sights set on being champions of the future.”

For more information on the Mary Peters Trust visit https://marypeterstrust.org/  http://bit.ly/2HRu6BT

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