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August 2017

On Friday July 7 Northern Ireland’s family superstars gathered at Belfast City Hall for an out-of-this-world gala awards ceremony in their honour.

Our spectacular space-themed event, hosted by Q Radio’s Gareth Stewart, featured a huge cast of inspirational family stars from across Northern Ireland, nominated by friends, loved ones, colleagues and customers in acknowledgment of their efforts for families and children.

Stars of sport, screen and stage also came out in force to support the event and show their appreciation for the people and organisations who go far above and beyond the call of duty to improve the lives of families with young children. It was Ni4kids’ opportunity to beam a spotlight on those who make huge sacrifices, show the ultimate dedication in their jobs, demonstrate great courage in the face of adversity – and always show up to help those in need with advice and support. The space theme was a reflection of the room full of family stars who joined us to receive praise and thanks for everything they do.

Finalists in twelve categories and their guests were over the moon to be invited to the celebration in the stunning surroundings of the magnificent Great Hall where there were many big bangs of applause for our winners and finalists and even a surprise extra-terrestrial performance.

2017 Winners & Finalists

Winner – Danielle Davis, Newtownards
(L-R) Danielle Davis & Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Nuala McAllister.
The judging panel said: “This amazing mum is totally dedicated to her daughter and family, continually putting their needs ahead of her own.”

Finalists – Nicola Gardiner, Carrickfergus & Sheree McConnell-Duffy, Moneymore

Sponsored by Q Radio
Winner – John Hodge, Belfast
(L-R) Orla Ross, Agency Sales Director, Q Radio & Ryan A, Q Radio Presenter.

The judging panel thought that this Superdad was inspirational and a wonderful role model to his two young boys.

Finalists – Graig Newberry, Comber & Paul Peters, Portadown

Sponsored by Action For Children
Winner – Caitlin O’Hanlon, Ballygawley
(L-R) Country Singer Cliona O’Hagan, Caitlin O’Hanlon, Joanne O’Hanlon & Dawn Shaw, Action For Children NI Director.

The judging panel said it was such a difficult choice to choose just one child of the year winner from four very deserving finalists however ultimately they felt that this determined young lady had shown such resilience in the face of adversity and deserves all our support in her venture to help other children suffering from depression.

Finalists – Sean Hawkins, Belfast, Ben Mooney, Crawfordsburn & Alfie Lewis, Dungannon
Dawn Shaw, NI Director, Action for Children who sponsor the award said: “There were plenty of strong nominations this year but Caitlin stood out because of her courage in trying to help other young people. There is a lot of stigma and misunderstanding around mental health issues for young people. By standing up and having her voice heard, Caitlin shows other young people that it’s normal to have problems in life and it’s always ok to ask for help. We are really pleased to be able recognise Caitlin and celebrate her win today”

Winner – Frances Quinn, Lisburn

(L-R) Katie Hull, Frances Quinn, Grace Quinn & Singer Peter Corry.

The judging panel loved the way this grandmother uses her garden gnomes to encourage positive habits in her grandchildren by leaving secret notes with them for the children to discover. A totally devoted ‘treasured Nanny’.

Finalists – David Booth, Belfast & Cheryl Duff, Randalstown

Winner – The Argory, Moy

(L-R) Gemma Elliott and Matthew Morrison, The Argory & Pauline Leeson CBE, Chief Executive of Children in Northern Ireland.

The Argory impressed both families and the judging panel by promoting a love of nature and getting the kids outside to enjoy some good old-fashioned fun.

Finalists – Tannaghmore Farm Museum & Gardens, Craigavon & HMS Caroline, Belfast
Sponsored by Odyssey Cinemas Belfast
Winner – Playful Museums Festival, NMNI
(L-R) Karen Magowan, Playful Museums, Odyssey Cinemas Business and Operations Manager, Shauna Royle & Beth Frazer, Playful Museums

What impressed the judging panel most about this new arrival to the family events calendar was the huge volume of recommendations received from parents, its child-centred approach and innovative use of existing spaces.

Finalists – Beat Carnival Village, Ormeau Park Belfast & Halloween at Mount Stewart
Sponsored by Family Media Group
Winner – Action Deaf Youth, Belfast
(L-R) Caitriona Fox, Action Deaf Youth, Julie Graham, Action Deaf Youth, parent Bronagh O’Connell & Gary Hamilton, Managing Director, Family Media Group

The judges were overwhelmed by the many heartwarming nominations received for this amazing charity who offer wonderfully creative resources and support to families at the start of their journey.

Finalists – Brain Injury Matters, Belfast & The Niamh Louise Foundation, Dungannon

Winner – Joan Putt, JP Swim
(L-R) Joan Putt & Olympian Johnny Davis

The judging panel described Joan as an inspirational coach who is making a real difference to children living with a disability, and impressive for being so highly thought of by the parents of the children she coaches.

Finalists – Una Higgins, Belfast & John & Clare Hegarty, Andersonstown Basketball Club
Sponsored by Forestside
Winner – Janice Marshall, Drumlins Integrated Primary School, Ballynahinch
(L-R) BBC Northern Ireland Education Correspondent Robbie Meredith, Janice Marshall & Brian McKibbon, Forestside.

The judging panel were particularly impressed by how this dedicated principal made sacrifices to promote integrated education and called her an inspirational teacher building for the future.
Finalists – Amanda Duffy-Phillips, Omagh North Nursery School & Henry Walls, St Colmcille’s Primary School, Ballymena

Lee Cutler, Centre Manager, Forestside said: "Each year, Forestside is blown away by the incredible candidates put forward for Primary School Teacher of the Year. These individuals play a crucial role in our children’s futures, and to see examples of where they have gone above and beyond to support and educate them is inspiring. That said, this year’s winner is exceptional. Janice Marshall, Principal of Drumlins Integrated Primary School, began with a school with no accommodation and over the years has grown it into a 180-pupil school in Ballynahinch, simply through sheer determination. She is a clear winner in our eyes, and we are proud to be recognising her for this monumental achievement.”

Winner – Beef and Bird, Lisburn

(L-R) Terry Moseley from the Irish Astronomical Association, Anthony and Bronagh Campbell, Beef and Bird & Derek Heatly, Ulster’s first space tourist as a Virgin Galactic Astronaut.

The judging panel felt that it was great to see young diners offered so much choice and that ultimately over two hundred recommendations from happy customers who took the time to nominate said it all.

Finalists – Fratelli Belfast and Glagorm & LeWinters at the Strangford Arms Hotel
Winner – Sleepy Hollow Day Nursery, Crumlin

(L-R) Pauline Bradshaw, Bronagh Creery & Amy Brough, Sleepy Hollow Day Nursery & Shauna McCarney-Blair, Managing Director of Heavenly Tasty Organics.

Sleepy Hollow Day Nursery was described by the judging panel as a ‘heartfelt operation from a mother’ and they were extremely impressed by the efforts to benefit children and their schools from the recycled profits of the social economy wraparound care.

Finalists – Juniors Day Care, Omagh & Katrina Monaghan, Newry

Sponsored by Young At Art
Winner – Dunmurry Dental Practice
(L-R) Joanne Dempster, Dunmurry Dental Practice, Eibhlin de Barra, Director of Young at Art & Fiona Kelly, Dunmurry Dental Practice

The judging panel were very impressed by this family focused business dedicating time and effort to educate children in positive dental hygiene.

Finalists – Allstate Northern Ireland, Duff Balloons, Omagh & Crown Plaza Hotel, Belfast

Winner – Julie McIntyre, Carrickfergus

(L-R) Julie McIntyre & Mary Roulston, Principal of Millennium integrated Primary School.
The winner of the Individual Recognition Award for Family Support is Julie McIntyre from Carrickfergus. Julie was nominated by Ashleigh Madill who said: “Julie McIntyre is my foster mum who 15 years ago took me in and completely changed my life and helped me rebuild it. Night and day she is there for me and my children and has taken me in as one of her own. Julie has a heart of gold and is still devoting her time and effort into helping children as misfortunate as I was. Julie goes above and beyond to give children the life she knows they deserve. She deserves to be recognised for how amazing she is.”

A Stellar Effort!

Ryan Tracey, the balloon modelling extraordinaire from Omagh who impressed the judging panel on this year’s BTG, created huge excitement when he set a new world record at the event for the quickest time to create five balloon animals while blindfolded! Ryan developed his passion for entertaining through balloon modelling because of his five children and he was also a finalist in the Family Friendly Business of the Year category for his company Duff Balloons. Ryan has spent over 2,000 hours training, has made over 60,000 balloons and engaged with thousands of children throughout Northern Ireland. He says his ambition is to change the world one smile at a time.

Guests loved the out-of-this-world entertainment from Young at Art.

Ni4kids would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who made this event possible.
To see more pictures from the day and find out more about our winners and finalists visit

Your Comments

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