“Passionate, incredible and hardworking.”
These were all words used to describe Derry’s Woman of the Year 2013 - Denise White.
Denise, who founded the charity ‘Something Special’ in 2007 was given the title following a ceremony at the City Hotel on Friday night.
And it wasn’t just the crowd who rose to their feet in rapturous applause who thought so.
The Canning family from Creggan who nominated her for the award said Denise’s work had been a “lifeline.”
“Denise is an inspiration,” Patsy Canning stated on the nomination form.
“She never sees the disability in our young people, only their abilities, and she is fearless in campaigning to improve the lives of children and adults with learning disabilities.
“She has made a massive difference to the lives of so many families in this area through her commitment, dedication and her Uncle Dessie would be very proud of her.”
“I can’t believe it,” Denise told the Journal. “I am totally overwhelmed and in shock.
“What it does do is bring into reality what I have done and what I aim to do in the future because my vision is huge.
“My uncle Dessie had Down Syndrome and he was one of the reasons I set up Something Special.
“The people I work with are amazing and have so many talents.
“Setting up Something Special is the best decision I have ever made. We are doing incredible things.”
Paying tribute to Denise, the Mayor Colr. Kevin Campbell said she was a well deserved winner who worked tirelessly to make a real difference to the lives of others.
Maureen Collins – Community Development
Susan Gibson – Contribution to Health
Tracy Hegarty – Contribution to Enterprise
Collette Craig – Contribution to Community Safety
Eibhlin Ni Dhochartaigh – Contribution to Arts
Denise White – Contribution to Formal/Informal education and overall winner of 2013 Woman of the Year
Rose White – Contribution to Older People
Mary O’Neill – Contribution to Youth
Maureen Hassan – Contribution to Childcare
Agnes Ward – Contribution to Caring
Laura Holmes – Living with a Disability