Six inspirational local individuals have been shortlisted for the SuperValu SuperStars awards and will attend a prestigious awards ceremony at Titanic Hotel on Thursday, November 21.
Returning for a third year, this popular initiative recognises those that have gone beyond the call of duty to help people and communities in need. The campaign launched in June and received an incredible number of inspiring nominations from across Northern Ireland.
Shortlisted for Young SuperStar finalist is Gouri Riya Chugh from Derry city, a student of Thornhill College. The 16 year-old has demonstrated community spirit in fostering cultural diversity, tackling racism and enhancing civic pride within the local Indian community.
Hoping to be named Unsung SuperStar is Titans Kickboxing Club’s Willie Lowry, nominated for his dedication to the running of the club over the past 20 years. Finally, in the running for Community Group SuperStar category after receiving two nominations in Karen McGuigan from Draperstown, who has been recognised for her contribution to mental health charity, STEPS.
There are also three candidates vying for the title of Fundraising SuperStar. Greg McLaughlin from Claudy has been recognised for his contribution to the community in organising a charity barn dance, raising over £30,000 for the Foyle Hospice and Children in Crossfire. Emma Graham from Coleraine, who dedicates her time as a dance teacher for ‘Strictly’ fundraising events in the community, has raised £30,000 in this year alone. Terry Geddis, also from Coleraine, has been recognised for his contribution to mental health awareness, organising a series of cycling fundraisers in memory of his late son, Zachary Geddis, who was lost to suicide in 2017.
The six local heroes are among more than 30 finalists from across Northern Ireland shortlisted within the categories of Young SuperStar, Fundraising SuperStar, Unsung SuperStar, Community Group SuperStar and Social Enterprise SuperStar.
The dazzling finalists’ ceremony will be hosted by TV personality Pamela Ballantine and the overall winner will walk away with £1,000 for themselves and a £1,000 donation to a registered charity of their choice. All other finalists will receive SuperValu vouchers.
Brendan Gallen, Head of Marketing, Musgrave NI said: “The intention of SuperValu SuperStars is to uncover and recognise remarkable individuals, including adults, children, community groups and people working in the social enterprise sector, who have gone beyond the call of duty.
“Once again, we have been blown away by the calibre of this year’s entries, and judging was a lengthy process. We are confident that we have selected an extremely strong group of finalists, who should all be very proud of their achievements. We are certain that all of our winners will be extremely deserving of their titles.”
Judge and host of SuperValu SuperStars, Pamela Ballantine, said: “Once again I am thrilled to be part of SuperValu SuperStars, an initiative which rewards local heroes for making contributions to communities right across Northern Ireland. It is inspiring to hear the stories of unsung heroes and the incredible work being done by children and adults that might otherwise have gone unrewarded. I look forward to meeting all of our finalists on November 21 in the Titanic Hotel, where they will be recognised for their achievements.” SuperValu SuperStars media partners are The Sun and U105. The initiative is sponsored by Action Cancer, Denny, Dove, Kinder Ice Cream, Philadelphia and RiverRock.
For further information and a full shortlist, visit www.supervalu.co.uk.
Greg McLaughlin – Fundraising SuperStar
Greg, along with his wife Cathy and son Jude, took the decision to host a charity barn dance on their family farm as a way of bringing the local community together, supporting local charities Foyle Hospice and Children In Crossfire, with a target of £20,000. Through hard work and the organisation led by a small committee, the dance was a huge success, not only raising £30,000 for the charities but also bringing together the Foreglen and Claudy communities.
Emma Graham – Fundraising SuperStar
Emma was nominated for this award for her kind heart and generosity in donating her time to teach community groups to dance for ‘Strictly’ fundraising competitions. In the past year alone, her volunteering has helped to raise £30,000 for various causes including a local primary school, sarcoma cancer and the community rescue service. In addition to this charity work, this year Emma also published a graphic novel titled ‘The Burning Memory’, around the issue of mental health recovery. Proceeds of the book have been donated to mental health charity Inspire Wellbeing and the book launch encouraged all local mental health services to promote their services on the day to raise awareness of the support available within the community.
Terry Geddis – Fundraising SuperStar
In March 2017, Terry lost his son Zachary Geddis to suicide, and subsequently set up the Zachary Geddis Break The Silence Trust. Since then, he has helped to raise suicide and mental health awareness through two cycling challenges, including a 14 day coast-to-coast challenge and a 1200 mile challenge through 100 towns in Northern Ireland, with the intention of lighting up the country and breaking the stigma around mental health. During his 11 day bike tour of Northern Ireland, Terry lit a candle in each town as a tribute to those lost to suicide. His dedication to the memory of his son has been remarkable in helping to break the silence around mental health.
Willie Lowry – Unsung SuperStar
Willie Lowry has been at the helm of Titans Kickboxing Club for over 20 years, running the sporting club voluntarily alongside a full-time job. Willie has been recognised for going above and beyond for every student in the club, which has grown to become the largest club in Northern Ireland, sending fighters to compete in Ireland, England and even the USA. His contribution in helping people of all ages discover a passion for kickboxing, as well as taking care of the behind the scenes operations of the club go above and beyond the call of duty.
Gouri Riya Chugh – Young SuperStar
Gouri Riya Chugh has been shortlisted as a finalist for the Young SuperStar award for her contribution to the development of cultural diversity within her community. As a student of Thornhill College, Gouri has taken on a number of community projects which have celebrated cultural diversity, helped to tackle racism in the area and highlight ethnic minorities in Derry city. By showcasing her own culture to a wide audience, she has created a strong sense of civic pride within the local Indian community and has created a very inclusive society at a young age.
Karen McGuigan – Community Group SuperStar
Karen is one of the founding members of STEPS, a mental health organisation in Draperstown. The charity has been crucial in raising awareness around the subject of mental health and suicide within Mid-Ulster and Karen’s dedication to ensure the success of the organisation has been recognised.