A number of amazing people from Derry and Inishowen have been honoured at the 25th Birthday National Lottery Awards.
Local teenager Megan Hart picked up a Young Hero honour, as local projects dominated the prestigious event in London on Tuesday.
Megan, who has a visual impairment, lived in kinship care with her grandmother. But when her grandmother was diagnosed with terminal cancer she became her primary carer.
The cookery-loving 16-year-old was surprised at the event when Masterchef duo John Torode and Gregg Wallace announced she was the winner of the inaugural Young Hero category.
A short film featuring Girls Aloud star Nadine Coyle paid tribute to Megan’s work as a Young Champion and as a role model to other young people at Kinship Care NI was also shown.
The award made it a double celebration for the local charity who picked up their awards as the public’s favourite Community and Charity project. Strictly pair Karim Zeroual and Amy Dowden did the honours by presenting Kinship Care CEO Jacqueline Williamson and children’s support worker Emma Brennick with an iconic trophy. The organisation will also receive a £10,000 cash prize.
A visit by TV presenter Laura Whitmore to Derry to meet the group, was also shown. The awards event will be broadcast on Wednesday 19 November 2019 – the 25th anniversary of the very first National Lottery draw.
Strabane woman Geraldine McGarrigle and former Donegal and Omagh Town goalkeeper Paul Callaghan, from Burt, were among those from Ulster GAA’s wheelchair hurling project who received the award for Best Sports Project.
Paralympian Ellie Simmonds made the presentation to recognise their work in making the sport more accessible to those with disabilities. Geraldine, 55, who has spina bifada, is the team’s goalkeeper and already has two all-Ireland winning medals to her name, while Paul is one of two coaching co-ordinators employed thanks to National Lottery funding to develop the sport.
Comedian and TV presenter Patrick Kielty travelled to Belfast in September to make a film with the team, who will also claim a £10,000 prize.
Finally, local taxi driver Sean Dillon rubbed shoulder with stars such as Ore Oduba, Hugh Bonneville and Emeli Sande as he was named a National Lottery Local Legend.
Foyle First Responders used National Lottery funded awarded to the North West Taxi Proprietors to train and equip taxi drivers to deliver first aid or medial assistance in emergency situations. Volunteers and drivers like Sean are often first on the scene of emergencies and their intervention can save vital minutes and lives before an ambulance arrives.
TV presenter and former Strictly Come Dancing Champion, Ore Oduba, who presented the show, said: “Every week National Lottery players raise £30 million for good causes and that funding is invested in life changing projects around the UK. There are thousands of ordinary people doing extraordinary things with National Lottery funding within communities across the country.”