Newry trio are finalists in Family Awards
The excitement is mounting as the shortlist of finalists for the first NI4Kids Family Awards has been published. The finalists have been invited to attend a dazzling awards ceremony on Friday 11th May in the Titanic signature building in Belfast, where 13 awards will be made including Mum of the Year and Child of the Year.
Among the finalists are 13 year old Conor Browne from Newtownhamilton, a finalist in the Child of the Year category. Conor is a 13 year old wheelchair user who plays Wheelchair Basketball for the NI Knights and was nominated by Mr Aubrey Bingham, Disability Sports NI, Belfast.
Bingham said in his nomination of Conor, “Although the twice weekly training sessions are in Belfast and Antrim, Conor travels up with his mum Lorna and brother Dane to nearly every session. His wheelchair and basketball skills have improved dramatically and he is on every team panel for the Knights Under 15 team competing in the GB Junior League as well as the NI Wheelchair Basketball team competing in UK Regional Championships and UK School Games.”
He added, “Conor also enthusiastically attends all club social and fundraising events. Conor is an affable, handsome and friendly young guy who is an absolute credit to his Mum and I believe would be a worthy recipient of this award.”
Another local man, Donald Browne from Castlewellan, was also shortlisted for the Grandparent of the Year category after being nominated by Lucy Browne. An excerpt from her nomination form read, “I am a single mum of 4 – neither of my previous partners help support the children. I work part time but have little time or money. My father gives me some money each month and has supported my daughter through Beauty College. She is at a college where she cannot get a student loan, but he believed in her ambition to be a skin specialist and therapist. He goes shopping every Friday for “treats” – the sort of things I can’t afford like salami, avocados, lamb chops, etc., then brings it all here in a big goodie bag (often bones for the dogs too)!”
“Every Sunday he cooks a full, old fashioned Sunday lunch for the whole family. This gives us a family focal point for the whole week and all the children love it – his roast lamb, roast potatoes, turnip, swede, carrots and cabbage all with a rich gravy! Yum! In emergencies he drives my son to work and does school pick up. When I went into hospital the children (and dogs!) stayed with him. My father never forgets a birthday and will do a special lunch with cake and presents, I know he will make a splash for me for Mother’s Day! He also keeps us in touch with the wider family in the rest of the world.”
She added, “He is Minister of the Eucharist at our local church and takes communion to housebound neighbours. Every Saturday he takes a gift of peeled potatoes to the Benedictine Monks at Rostrevor – believe me they really appreciate this – he has supported them for several decades now. I really don’t know what we would do without his support and energy, he is the best male role model my children could have – I never feel they are lacking because I am a lone mother. He is 87.”
Annalong man Stephen O’Hare was nominated for the Dad of the Year award. He was nominated by his wife Mrs Bevin O’Hare who had this to say about her beloved husband:
“I am nominating my husband, who in 2008 became a house husband to our 3 children and I began to work full time. In April 2009 I gave birth to twin girls prematurely and sadly they died. My wonderful husband helped me through all the grief. I became pregnant very quickly again after that and had a very complicated pregnancy with little hope of a happy outcome. However, our son was born at 28 weeks and initially had a very rough time. He was in hospital for the first 14 weeks of his life. Through this time my husband was so supportive looking after the 3 children at home while I spent most of my time at the hospital.”
“When the hospital visits got too much for me and I was physically and emotionally exhausted, he visited the hospital and let me have a well earned rest. When the baby came home he was so good in caring for him and all of the children. Our son has a few additional needs and requires quite a bit of attention and a lot of hospital appointments and my wonderful husband does all of this and cares for the other children, including school runs, homework’s, after school activities, all the housework and much, much more. He even find times to coach the underage football, boxing and drumming in the local area! He is a true inspiration for coming through so much and giving so much time to the needs of our son and the needs of the others children. Our children love him so much and he is a fantastic daddy! He deserves to be considered for this award.”
Nadia Duncan, editor of NI4Kids and event organiser said that they are thrilled with the level of interest and the number of entries. Speaking to Newry Times, she said, “NI4Kids magazine focuses on all the family events and attractions going on all over Northern Ireland, as well tackling some of the tougher issues facing families. There are lots of unsung local heroes who make a real difference to the lives of children and parents every day, whether in the line of duty or simply as a family member. These Awards are a great chance to give them a little of the recognition they deserve.”
She added, “We had hundreds of entries and our judging panel were faced with some tough decisions when they met a few days ago. As always with these things, it is a shame that not everyone can be recognised, as it’s very clear that there are lots of amazing people and organisations who are worthy of recognition. We are extremely excited for our finalists, who have now all been told they are shortlisted and will join us with their families at next Friday’s event in Titanic Belfast. We can’t wait to share the winners’ stories.”
Siobhan McKeown, Marketing Manager of event sponsor, The Outlet Village, Banbridge, was on the judging panel. She enthused, “We were really impressed, and in many cases, deeply touched by the nominations we read before arriving at our final shortlist. There are just so many people across Northern Ireland doing wonderful things to enrich families’ lives – often things that they just take on as part of everyday life.”
She added, “Busy families rely heavily on help and support from each other and from people outside, without whom they would struggle. The NI4Kids Family Awards are a lovely way to share some of their stories and a step towards giving these people a little nod of appreciation. Our congratulations go out to all the finalists – they have a lot to celebrate.”
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