Phil Coulter ‘honoured’ to receive Derry Journal Lifetime Achievement Award 2021

Musical genius Phil Coulter has spoken of his gratitude and pride in his city after being named as the recipient of the Derry Journal People of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award 2021.

The composer, musician and producer behind a vast array on some of the world’s most lauded songs was honoured with the accolade at the awards ceremony in the Everglades Hotel on Thursday night.

Phil Coulter’s daughter Siobhan was in attendance at the Derry Journal Bet McLean awards ceremony to collect the award, while her father sent a video recording from Spain to those in attendance.

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The man who penned Derry’s anthem ‘The Town I Loved So Well’, the national rugby anthem ‘Ireland’s Call’, ‘Scorn Not His Simplicity’ and numerous other global hits, told those gathered: “Thank you to the Derry Journal and indeed to Derry for this very important award.

Musician, Phil Coulter. (Photo: Derry Journal)

“I’m very aware that I am stepping into some very big shoes with this Lifetime Achievement Award.

“Sorry I am night there to join the festivities, as you can see I am putting in the long hours here in Spain - yeah, it’s a long way from Abercorn Terrace. It’s been quite journey.

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“During my career I have often said my first smart move was being born in Derry. Derry has played an important part in shaping me and has stayed very important in my life through all these years.

Growing up in the city, the Derry Journal loomed large in our lives - I remember visiting the offices on Shipquay Street when it was owned by the McCarroll family, and characters like the photographer Larry Doherty, Balbo [Willie] Carson, journalists like Frank Curran. They were indeed glory days.

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Lifetime Achievement Award winner Phil Coulter represented by his daughter Siobhan pictured with the Mayor of Derry and Strabane Alderman Graham Warke, Brendan McDaid, Editor of the Derry Journal and Paul McLean from Principal Sponsor BetMcLean . Photo: George Sweeney. DER2139GS – 062

“I’ve been fortunate in my life and my career to receive many awards but there is something very special about this one because it’s from my own place and my own people.”

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Phil was one of many worthy recipients on the night. To cheers, his daughter Siobhan summed up the feelings of many attendees on the night when she stated: “I really am truly honoured to be in this room tonight with so many people who have been an inspiration, who have gone above and beyond all measure for their communities and that is what makes this city great.”

It was indeed a night to remember as many of the north west’s leading lights from over the past two years gathered for the Derry Journal Bet McLean People of the Year Awards.

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The awards - returning for the first time since the pandemic began - brought together gifted and inspirational people, many of them meeting each other for the first time, and the electric atmosphere led host Adrian Logan to declare it the best awards ceremony he had ever attended.

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There were many standing ovations, cheers and tears shed over the night as the exceptional stories of the finalists were relayed before the winners were announced.

Earlier, Mayor of Derry & Strabane Graham Warke and principal sponsor Paul McLean of Bet McLean paid tribute to all the finalists, each of them deserving of the utmost praise for their excellence and outstanding achievements in their respective fields.

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Speaking about the night, Mayor Warke said: “I was truly privileged to attend the Derry Journal’s People of the Year awards and honestly blown away at the many inspirational people who were nominated in the various categories.

“Every nominee could have taken home an award, and I was particularly inspired by young twins Adam and Aoife Burke who were deservedly voted by the public for the Outstanding Bravery Award following the passing of their beloved daddy Thomas.

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“We also saw another brave young person, Tamzin White, recognised, and Eve McIvor – a member of my Mayor’s charity, Foyle Down Syndrome Trust – who was voted Volunteer of the Year.

“They are just a few of the amazing winners but I’d like to congratulate each one of the nominees and category winners. They should all be incredibly proud of their achievements.”

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Journal Editor Brendan McDaid thanked category sponsors Calor, Derry City & Strabane District Council, Alchemy Technology Services, Specsavers Ferryquay Street and Crescent Link, Apex Housing Association, City of Derry Airport, Ulster University and Vogue Car Sales for their involvement in helping top recognise the outstanding achievements of the finalists. “It is such acts of devotion and that community spirit that the late Martin McCrossan envisioned honouring when he started these awards, and so it is our privilege to be able to invite you all here tonight to continue that tradition in his memory,” he said.

“At the Journal we have been highlighting many of those positive stories over the past two years. Next year will see the 250th anniversary of the first edition of the Derry Journal being printed way back in 1772. We have remained embedded in the heart of this community since, telling the stories of local people for generations, and we hope to keep on doing so for generations to come.

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“All the nominees here this evening have been instrumental in providing hope and bringing our community together at a time when we have grown used to being forced apart. Collectively and individually you are an inspiration to all of us.”

*We will have a special People of the Year awards supplement in Friday’s Derry Journal.

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The winners were as follows:

The full list of the winners on the night were:

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*Business Person of the Year Jenna Devine, Devine Scents. Sponsored by Calor.

*Carer of the Year - Gemma Killen. Sponsored by Specsavers, Derry Crescent Link & Ferryquay Street.

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*Charity Worker of the Year Danny Quigley.

*Community Development Person of the Year: Gary Rutherford. Sponsored by Apex Housing Association.

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*Contribution to Arts & Culture Award: Allegri.

*Derry Journal Community Hero Award: Micky Doherty. Sponsored by Derry Journal

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Editor’s Choice Award: Tamzin White. Sponsored by Derry Journal.

*Emergency Services Hero of the Year: Alwyn John Griffin Warnock.

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*Inspirational Young Talent Award: Ashton Murphy. Sponsored by City of Derry Airport.

*Key Worker of the Year: Dr Mukesh Chugh.

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*Outstanding Bravery Award: Aoife & Adam Burke. Sponsored by Vogue Car Sales

*Sports Person of the Year: Danny Quigley. Sponsored by BetMcLean.

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*Sports Volunteer of the Year: Derry and District Football Association. Sponsored by BetMcLean.

*Volunteer of the Year: Eve Mc Ivor, Foyle Down Syndrome Trust. Sponsored by Alchemy Technology Service.

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*Inspirational Educator: Marie Lindsay. Sponsored by Ulster University.

*Martin McCrossan Tourism & Hospitality Award: Neil Devlin.

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*Lifetime Achievement Award: Phil Coulter (Sponsored by Derry City & Strabane District Council.