The sense of celebration was almost palpable as the largest gathering of guests to date attended the annual Eastside Awards in association with George Best Belfast City Airport, hosted by television presenter Tara Mills, in Hastings Stormont Hotel.
The emotionally charged evening climaxed with the announcement that Colm Davis OBE would receive the coveted Outstanding Contribution Award sponsored by East Belfast Enterprise.
Colm Davis spent his career working to improve the lives of children with special needs. As Principal of Tor Bank School in Dundonald he fought long and hard to secure funding for a much-needed new school and now the children enjoy fantastic facilities after years of being taught in mobile classrooms. In a cruel twist of fate he was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease the year after the new school opened its doors and had to retire early on medical grounds. But he hasn’t stopped campaigning for special needs children and has begun lobbying for MND research during his retirement.
There was double delight for Zara Janahi as she took the titles of Volunteer and Young Person of the Year. Judges commented that she is a young person who is going places and they were really cheered up by her application.
Eastside Awards 2020 winners are:
Eastside Award for Teacher of the Year – Primary sponsored by Belfast Live: Lindy Forster, Greenwood Primary School
Eastside Award for Teacher of the Year – Post Primary sponsored by Belfast Live: Cheryl Hoey, Ashfield Girls High School
Eastside Award for Best Community Project sponsored by The Urban Villages Initiative: Dementia Friendly East Belfast
Eastside Award for Business Start-Up sponsored by Belfast City Council: Breeze Fitness Studio
Eastside Award for Business Growth sponsored by Ulster Bank: Parr Facilities Management Ltd
Eastside Award for Volunteer of the Year sponsored by East Belfast Mission: Zara Janahi
Eastside Award for Carer of the Year sponsored by Wolseley: Rowena Frazer
Eastside Award for Community Champion of the Year sponsored by Belfast Harbour: Linda Ervine
Eastside Award for Contribution to the Arts sponsored by Phoenix Natural Gas: Vault Artist Studios
Eastside Award for Employer of the Year sponsored by Fleet Financial: Pacem
Eastside Award for Excellence in Health and Wellbeing sponsored by Solv Group: Hosford Health and Wellbeing Project
Eastside Award for Sports Initiative of the Year sponsored by Millar McCall Wylie: Left Field
Eastside Award for Taste Experience sponsored by We’re Sure: Ronnie’s
Eastside Award for Tourism Experience sponsored by Titanic Belfast, Titanic Foundation, Titanic Quarter Ltd: EastSide Tourism
The Titanic Eastside Award for Innovation sponsored by Titanic Belfast, Titanic Foundation, Titanic Quarter Ltd: East Belfast Community Capacity & Leadership Programme
Eastside Award for Young Person of the Year sponsored by George Best Belfast City Airport: Zara Janahi
Eastside Award for Outstanding Contribution sponsored by East Belfast Enterprise: Colm Davis OBE
Stephen Patton, Human Resources and CR Manager at George Best Belfast City Airport, said: “For four years running, George Best Belfast City Airport has been the proud principal sponsor of the Eastside Awards and is continually honoured to be involved with an initiative that celebrates all that is good and great about east Belfast. The calibre of finalists keeps getting better each and every year and as a business based in the heart of east Belfast, we are lucky to be surrounded by such passionate and dedicated people. I would like to congratulate all the finalists for their commitment to continually enhancing our community.”
Jonathan McAlpin, Chief Executive of East Belfast Enterprise and Chair of Eastside Awards Committee, said: “The Eastside Awards is truly at the forefront of celebrating all that is good about East Belfast and, in this our fourth year, I’m honoured and humbled in congratulating those who have achieved magnificent success within our community. From the record numbers in attendance to recognising the outstanding Colm Davis as our Outstanding Contributor and ending with a performance by DJing legend Terri Hooley, the fourth annual Eastside Awards was a truly memorable occasion. Our committee certainly has its work cut out for 2021 as we come together to deliver the fifth annual awards as the fourth Eastside Awards has exceeded my expectations in every way!”
Eastside Awards finalists were treated to a VIP reception courtesy of sponsor The Waterside Belfast and entertainment sponsored by The Open University included a performance by Queen’s Island Male Voice Choir and a set by DJing legend Terri Hooley.