‘Derry Journal People of the Year award gave our Foyle Foodbank volunteers a real boost’

We’ve no shortage of outstanding people and organisations in the north west and the Derry Journal Bet McLean People of the Year awards next month aims to celebrate and recognise the achievements of local people across a range of different categories.

Saturday, 28th August 2021, 12:30 pm

Many of those people, groups and organisations have stood out over the past two years be in undertaking mammoth feats for others, leading campaigns, rallying to support the sick and the vulnerable and going above and beyond in their profession, passion, field or sport.

A few years ago, one of Derry’s most vital charities, Foyle Foodbank, won the Community Development Award and Foodbank Manager James McMenamin said they chose to nominate in this category “to help us recognise the amazing work our volunteers were doing for those within the community who were in need”.

Speaking about winning the awards two years ago, James said: “In the run up to the live event, when finalists were announced, on the night itself, waiting for your category to be announced, the feeling was electric.

James McMenamin with some of the volunteers at Foyle Foodbank. (Stephen Latimer)

“It gave our volunteers such a boost to even be considered for the award. Once we were made aware that we were finalists it gave us all such a boost it felt like we had already won by getting so far and so much recognition for what we do from the public.

“On the night, what can I say? The atmosphere was amazing, a room filled with so many good people. We were seated at our table just waiting to hear our category called and then watch the presentation put together by your team for each finalist.

“Then the announcement was made and I nearly fell off my seat. The excitement walking up to collect the award on behalf of our amazing team and the pride was just oozing out of me whilst shaking and just glad we didn’t have to make a speech!

“This gave our volunteers and management team the boost to keep going and make the experience even better at the foodbank for those who need it.”

Pictured at the 2019 Derry Journal People of the Year Awards were Pamela Mullan, Liz Hughes, Lauraine Mollison, Graeme Houston, JPIMedia, Mayor of Derry City and Strabane Colr Michaela Boyle, Brendan McDaid, Editor, Derry Journal, Andrena O’Prey, JPIMedia, and Martin Mullan. DER3619GS – 06

Since those awards, James says the need for the foodbank has grown considerably. “We still have an amazing team of volunteers who continue to give up there free time to help those most in need.”

He added that the award “has given us great press coverage to let those in need know the service is here to help.”

Nominations are closing very soon for the Derry Journal People of the Year Awards. The annual awards - which had to be suspended last year due to COVID - were launched at the Guildhall by Mayor of Derry & Strabane, Alderman Graham Warke, sponsors and staff from the Derry Journal earlier this year.

The awards, which originated with the late, great Derryman Martin McCrossan, are being sponsored by, among others, Bet McLean, City of Derry Airport, Derry City & Strabane District Council, Apex, Alchemy, Specsavers and Calor.

Paul McLean, managing director, BetMcLean, principle sponsor,third from left, pictured with is guests at the Derry Journal People of the Year Awards back in 2019. DER3619GS – 064

The 15 categories are: Contribution to Arts & Culture Award; Key Worker of the Year; Inspirational Young Talent Award; Volunteer of the Year; Charity Worker of the Year; Community Development Person of the Year; Carer of the Year; Inspirational Educator of the Year; Business Person of the Year; Sports Volunteer of the Year; Martin McCrossan Tourism & Hospitality Award; Sports Person of the Year; Outstanding Bravery Award; Emergency Services Hero of the Year; Lifetime Achievement Award.

To nominate someone or some group or organisation go to: www.derrypeopleawards.co.uk/