NI4Kids Family Superstars of 2016 Revealed

Finalists see their names in lights at the family equivalent of the Oscars

Northern Ireland’s family superstars were in the spotlight as they walked the red carpet at a movie-star themed gala awards ceremony in their honour on Monday June 27 at Belfast City Hall.

The Ni4kids Family Awards reward and celebrate the individuals and organisations from across the province who go above and beyond for families with young children in Northern Ireland.

Nadia Duncan, managing editor at Ni4kids said of the inspiration behind the event:

“Five years ago we created this event in honour of all the amazing superstars across Northern Ireland who put families with young children first. This is our opportunity to say thank you and shine the spotlight on those who have made huge sacrifices and gone to great lengths to help their families; shown the ultimate dedication to their jobs in helpingchildren, demonstrated great courage in the face of adversity and the most difficult of circumstances – or always shown up to help those in need with advice and support.

“Our finalists are the ones who deserve to take centre stage and hear applause, as they have risen so high in the esteem of friends, families, colleagues and loved ones, that they were nominated to receive an award. Congratulations to all of our finalists this year – you are all outstanding and on behalf of families in Northern Ireland – we thank you for all that you do.”

Three finalists in each category and their guests were invited to the movie-star themed gala awards ceremony on Monday June 27 at Belfast City Hall hosted by Q Radio presenter Gareth Stewart, where all ages were entertained with appearances from surprise paparazzi acts and spectacular performances from Peter Corry. VIPs guests included Dame Mary Peters, William Caulfield, Martin Lynch, the Lord Mayor of Belfast, Minister for Education Peter Weir MLA, Rita Fitzgerald, Judith Gillespie CBE, Olivia Nash and Tim McGarry.

Guests were stunned by entertainment provided by Peter Corry alongside young performers Eva-Rose McGall and Victoria McClements, a former Ni4kids Child of the Year. This summer Peter, who has a wealth of experience performing on the West End and throughout the world, is directing a unique youth production of the iconic musical, Cats, coming to the the SSE arena from July 25 until August 6. Hundred young people from Northern Ireland aretaking part in the production, giving them the opportunity to develop theirstage education.

Peter also presented the Child of the Year Award to Lucy Parke from Castlewellan. Six-year-old Lucy has a very rare illness called Progeria, an extremely rare genetic disorder in which for every one year of her life her body ages eight years. The condition affects only one in 8 million births and Lucy is currently the only child in Ireland with this condition – and one of only a few in the world. Her condition means she suffers from painful joints and her hips have dislocated on a number of occasions, but Lynette Kernaghan who nominated Lucy said: ‘She is so brave and touches everyone’s heart. She deserves this special award because she is a very special child.’

Another family superstar was scout leader Greg Brennan, who walked away with the Coach of the Year Award. The 2nd Holywood Scout Group have just celebrated one hundred years of scouting and mum Angela Atkinson believes a big reason why it’s still running is down to fantastic leaders like Greg Brennan. Greg has committed well over 40 years to scouting and is described as a ‘well-liked and respected man for whom nothing is too much hassle’ who has given up so much time over the years for his troop. This year he is taking the boys on a week-long trip toSwitzerland. Angela says, ‘We parents have 100 per cent trust in him and the boys adore him. He is firm, but a lot of fun. He goes the extra mile week in, week out.’

The Ni4kids Childcare Award went to Keith Kennedy, a childminder from Belfast. He was nominated by Ciara McCullough from Lisburn for the care of her daughter Sophie. In her nomination Ciara wrote,‘I’ve been through a very tough year and I don’t know how I would have got through without my childminder. He really just loves the job. He does pick-ups and drop-offs and goes for days out and adventures with the kids, asking for no extra money. He does arts and crafts and special parties and sends pictures of Sophie on days out. Heeven offers coaching and advice on parenting issues. He is well respected in the community and is also a youth leader. Keith has been a really understanding carer and don’t think I will ever meet anyone as wonderful as him!’

The Giant’s Lair at Slieve Gullion Forest Park picked up the award for Family Visitor Attraction of the Year, Family Event of the Year went to Replay Theatre Company’s Belfast BabyDay and Slim’s Healthy Kitchen was named Family Restaurant of the Year.

2016 Winners and Finalists

 

FAMILY VISITOR ATTRACTION OF THE YEAR

Sponsored by Foster Care Associates

Winner – Slieve Gullion Forest Park – The Giant’s Lair, Newry

Finalists – The Jungle NI, Magherafelt & Rosepark Farm, Ballymoney

 

EVENT OF THE YEAR

Sponsored by Odyssey Cinemas Belfast

Winner – Belfast BabyDay, Replay Theatre Company

Finalists – Big Wild Sleepout, RSPB & A Night on Broadway, Moneyrea Primary School

 

 

FAMILY SUPPORT ORGANISATION OF THE YEAR

Sponsored by Family Media Group

Winner – PEAT NI

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

 

COACH OR TUTOR OF THE YEAR

Sponsored by Specsavers

Winner – Greg Brennan, 2nd Holywood Scout Group, Holywood

Finalists – Ciara Faloona, Playball NI, Belfast & Michael Jackson, East Belfast Football Club

 

PRIMARY SCHOOL TEACHER OF THE YEAR

Sponsored by Forestside

Winner – Fiona McGoldrick, Loughview Integrated Primary School, Belfast

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

 

FAMILY RESTAURANT OF THE YEAR

Winner – Slim’s Healthy Kitchen, Belfast

Finalists – Café Nosh, Dundonald & IKEA, Belfast

 

CHILDCARE AWARD

Winner – Keith Kennedy, Childminder, Belfast

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

 

FAMILY FRIENDLY BUSINESS OF THE YEAR

Sponsored by IKEA Belfast 

Winner – SENsations Learning Support

Finalists – Debbie Doolittle’s Wildlife, Antrim & Scallywags Play Centre, Banbridge

 

MUM OF THE YEAR

Sponsored by Gordons Chemists

Winner – Grainne Ashe, Belfast

Finalists – Laura Casey, Lurgan, Leigh Dunn, Ballybogey & Julie Hull, Lisburn

 

 

DAD OF THE YEAR

Sponsored by Q Radio 

Winner – Gerard Casey, Dungannon

Finalists – Henry McTasney, Belfast & Ivan Mullan, Limavady

 

 

CHILD OF THE YEAR

Winner – Lucy Parke, Castlewellan

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

 

GRANDPARENT OF THE YEAR

Winner – Catherine Ferns, Newry

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