The third annual Eastside Awards in association with George Best Belfast City Airport was the biggest and best yet, as 320 guests attended the glittering Burns Night ceremony, hosted by television presenter Tara Mills, recognising the best of East Belfast at Hastings Stormont Hotel.
The top accolade for Outstanding Contribution was awarded to East Belfast man Mervyn Hempton, who is committed to creating employment and wealth across the city with entrepreneurship and economic development at his heart. As Chair of East Belfast Enterprise, he was instrumental in the building of the business park and 60 incubation units. Before his retirement, Mervyn was Chief Executive of Allied Bakeries, achieving a major lifelong goal of securing employment or stability for more than 450 families in East Belfast and, as Chairman of Northern Ireland Bakery Council and President of Irish Association of Master Bakers, he was awarded Freedom of the City of London. He is currently Chair of Northern Ireland Piping and Drumming School which provides music tuition to children with special needs.
And Ashfield Girls’ School scored a hat trick, with pupil Coleen Bergantinos scooping the Young Person of the Year award, the third year running for the school winning in that category.
Eastside Awards 2019 winners are:
Eastside Award for Favourite Beauty Salon sponsored by Solv Group – Beauty Culture
Eastside Award for Favourite Hair Salon sponsored by Solv Group – LaVeau Hair
Eastside Award for Favourite Eatery sponsored by Solv Group – Orchard Café
Eastside Award for Favourite Takeaway sponsored by Solv Group – Mandarin City
Eastside Award for Tourism Experience sponsored by Titanic Belfast, Titanic Foundation and Titanic Quarter – We Are Vertigo
Eastside Award for Individual Contribution to Sport sponsored by Millar McCall Wylie – Gervis Knox and Keith Knox, Ormeau Table Tennis Club & Ulster Table Tennis
Eastside Award for Contribution to the Arts sponsored by Phoenix Natural Gas – Strand Arts Centre
Eastside Award for Educator of the Year sponsored by We’re Sure – Beverley Cripps, Ashfield Girls’ High School
Eastside Award for Best Community Project sponsored by the Urban Villages Initiative – Groundwork Northern Ireland
Eastside Award for Employer of the Year sponsored by Fleet Financial – Odyssey Bowl
Titanic Eastside Award for Innovation sponsored by Titanic Belfast, Titanic Foundation and Titanic Quarter – Spectra Sensory Clothing
Eastside Award for Business Start-Up sponsored by Belfast City Council – Spectra Sensory Clothing
Eastside Award for Business Growth sponsored by Ulster Bank – Belfast Pilates & Physiotherapy
Eastside Award for Volunteer of the Year sponsored by Wolseley UK – Pamela Loan, East Belfast Mission
Eastside Award for Young Person of the Year sponsored by George Best Belfast City Airport – Coleen Bergantinos, Ashfield Girls’ High School
Michelle Hatfield, Director of Corporate Services at George Best Belfast City Airport, principal sponsor said: “Belfast City Airport is proud to support the Eastside Awards for a third consecutive year. The Eastside Awards is a natural fit for Belfast City Airport as we celebrate those individuals and groups that make our community the success it is.
“We all share and benefit from the continuing success of East Belfast and I want to congratulate all the finalists. The continuing hard work and commitment of the people of East Belfast make it such a great place to live, work and play.”
Jonathan McAlpin, Chief Executive of East Belfast Enterprise and Chair of Eastside Awards Committee, said: “When I had a vision of bringing the people of East Belfast together to celebrate all that is great about our little corner of the city, I honestly had no idea that we would grow in three short years to be presenting the Eastside Awards in front of 320 guests.
“I’m truly humbled and honoured that the judges of the third Eastside Awards have recognised such an amazing and diverse range of winners and these awards have excelled beyond my wildest expectations to be a magnificent success.”
Eastside Awards finalists were treated to a VIP reception courtesy of sponsor The Waterside Belfast and 320 guests gathered to recognise all that is great about East Belfast. On arrival at Hastings Stormont Hotel, guests were entertained by musicians from Grosvenor Grammar School before being treated to a performance by Bright Lights Dance Group and Murray School of Irish Dancing.