Q&A with Sandra Biddle winner of Derry Journal People of the Year Award Lifetime Achievement award
and live on Freeview channel 276
How did you feel when you found out last year you had not just been nominated, but had also won the lifetime achievement award?
Honestly when I received the news, I said “Seriously…Me?” After the initial shock of the nomination, I thought, well the other finalists are so deserving what an honour to be included in such company. When I won the award, I experienced several feelings…Shock; A bit awkward; Grateful to all the people in my life who make it possible for me to do what I do; Thankful to God for my health and for giving me the opportunity to work with the next generation of amazing young people for our talented, beautiful city.
How did Blathnaid enjoy arriving to the event, and seeing all the other finalists?
As you know I was away for the final award ceremony. Blathnaid didn’t realise how big the event was for the city. She was blown away by the work and amazing talent of the other finalists. She said “Mum honestly anyone of the finalists would have been a worthy winner.” A sentiment I fully agree with. She had Mailiosa and Aoibheann, John and I on WhatsApp. So, she was very busy keeping us up to date but had a fantastic evening.
Where do you keep your award?
I keep the award on the mantelpiece in my music room.
What have you been up to since then?
I started back in September. The pupils worked hard for the charity event in aid of the Foyle Hospice in October. And then our Christmas show…the most exciting time for our stars. This term it is all about the Grade exams and the Derry Feis. So, it’s been a busy time for us all the Foyle School of Speech and Drama.
How important do you feel it is to recognise and celebrate the achievements of local people and the good work that goes on locally?
“Try not to become a person of success, but rather try to become a person of value.” Albert Einstein. Indeed, all the finalist last year and every year to date are people of great value doing great work in our community. Their work and dedication to what they do has enriched Individuals, groups and the wider community. Their role strengthens our sense of purpose; our sense of belonging and gives us hope for the future. It is nice as a community, brought together by this award, to acknowledge such individuals.
What was the reaction from your students, their families and in general when people found out you won?
The pupils were so excited. The award was only possible because each week I stand in front of our city’s most talented, sincere and kind young people. I told them this was their award. I was inundated with best wishes from my pupils, parents and even people I didn’t really know. My pride and joy are the homemade cards I received on my first day back in class. Priceless pieces of art which I value because of the time and effort each child took to make them.
What would you say to anyone thinking of entering this year's awards or nominating someone?
I think one the nicest things you can do for someone is to say “Thank you”.
If you know someone in the north west…nominate them…say thank you. Go to: www.nationalworldevents.com/bod-2023/