Inaugural sports awards bring joy

Inaugural sports awards bring joy

13 March 2019

NEWRY, Mourne and Down District Council, hosted the inaugural NMD Sports Awards in association with Sports Association Newry, Down and Armagh (SANDSA), to honour the area’s sporting stars, in the Canal Court Hotel & Spa on Thursday night.

Over 250 people attended the event including MPs, MLAs, councillors, representatives from Volunteer Now, Disability Sport Northern Ireland, and Sport Northern Ireland, retired international Irish and Ulster rugby player Chris Henry, local sports clubs, governing bodies, Sport Northern Ireland, invited guests and finalists.

The 13 award categories covered a vast range of sporting disciplines and showcased the array of skills within the district and the awards acknowledged the dedication of all those who take part in sporting and leisure activities. 

Broadcaster and journalist, Claire McCollum compered on the evening with invited guests presenting the awards to the deserved winners.

Newry, Mourne and Down District Council chairman, Mark Murnin said: “The council is proud to have such dedicated sports people and we are very fortunate to have a wealth of diverse sporting achievement across the district. 

“The high standards of our sports clubs and their ability to deliver quality sporting opportunities for our local communities reflects their dedication and enthusiasm, not just to develop sporting stars, but to developing people.

“I want to congratulate both the finalists and the winners in the 13 categories—they make our district a better place for everyone,” he added.

“Our council will continue to support the area’s sporting communities to empower and enable individuals and sports clubs to develop and deliver sporting experiences so that everyone can enjoy an active lifestyle, from grass roots to high performance.”

Jane Gribbin, manager of community engagement with Volunteer Now said: “Sports and exercise is the most popular activity that formal volunteers in Northern Ireland are involved in and we are delighted to see such development in sport across the district. 

Most volunteers, through their strong beliefs, behaviour and generally selfless actions in the interest and wellbeing of others, believe in a better tomorrow.”

The disability awards were presented by Aubrey Bingham, Disability Sport Northern Ireland’s (DSNI) community sport manager and he added.

“We at DSNI work with people with physical, sensory and learning disabilities of all ages and with schools, disability groups, sporting organisations and district councils to ensure that everyone can gain from the health, social and education benefits of sport and active recreation.”  

Macmillan Move More Programme participants shared their personal journeys on the night and explained the benefits of being active when living with a cancer diagnosis.

They detailed how Newry, Mourne and Down District Council has provided an award-winning programme that has transformed their lives through participation in physical activity.

Diarmaid McAuley, Macmillan programme services manager attended the evening with Newry, Mourne and Down District Council’s Macmillan Move More co-ordinator, Laura McGrath.

Newry, Mourne and Down District Council chief executive, Liam Hannaway, closed the awards ceremony by congratulating all the awards winners on their achievements. 

“We want to encourage all of our citizens to ‘Be Active…. Your Way Every Day’. 

As outlined in our corporate plan, our mission as a council is to lead and serve a district that is prosperous, healthy and sustainable. 

“We want to play our part in improving quality of life and reducing health inequalities, primarily through programmes and services. 

We are transforming our leisure and sport facilities and integrating up-to-date technology into our organisation to make it even easier for citizens of the district to participate in physical activity.”

Award winners: Junior Club Team of the Year 2018, Warrenpoint Golf Club, Irish Junior Foursomes; Senior Club Team of the Year 2018, Kilkeel Hockey Club 1st XI; Team of the Year with a Disability 2018, Peadar Connolly, Sportability; Lifetime Services to Sport, Oliver McGauley, Newry Coarse Fishing Angling Club; Young Sport Volunteer of the Year 2018, Aaron Donnell, Ballynahinch 

Hockey Club; Senior Sport Volunteer of the Year 2018, John Cookson, Glenn John Martin GAC; Disability Coach of the Year 2018, Yvonne Smyth, Downpatrick School of Lifesaving; Young Technical Official of the Year 2018, Adam Brown, Killyleagh Table Tennis Club.

Technical Official of the Year 2018, Helen McKee, Special Olympics Newry Young Coach of the Year 2018, Stacie Cunningham, Newcastle Karate Club; Performance Pathway Coach of the Year 2018, Cathal Fegan, Taekwondo; Junior Sportsperson of the Year 2018, Tomás McKeever, CF Taekwondo; Senior Sportsperson of the Year 2018, Graham Ochiltree, Martial Arts, The Bryansford Academy.