Community heroes in the Lisburn & Castlereagh area have been recognised for their selflessness and commitment to others.

Six winners’ names were announced at Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council’s Mayor’s Community Awards on Thursday 9 March.

The guests joined the Mayor, Councillor Scott Carson and Paul Clark at La Mon House Hotel to celebrate the significant role volunteering plays in the Lisburn & Castlereagh community.

Speaking at the event, Mayor Carson said: “By its nature, volunteering is about giving – helping to improve the lives of others and our community as a whole. People give their time in many different ways and I want to recognise and applaud everyone who does that – you are very special.

“Tonight, I am proud to have the opportunity to recognise the fantastic work you do. These awards reflect our appreciation, as a council, for the dedication you show to others. We appreciate your efforts for your friends, neighbours and service users. Together we continue to work towards creating better communities for everybody.

“We are recognising a variety of strengths in our categories this evening - from our ‘Youth Champion’ and ‘Brian McDowell Volunteer of the Year’ to the ‘Stronger Together’ and ‘Mayor’s Choice’ awards.  

“Our community heroes make me proud to represent the Lisburn & Castlereagh area. I would like to thank everyone who made nominations this year and also our partners - the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust, Volunteer Now and the Education Authority for their continued support.”

The winner of the Mayor’s Choice Award category was Ben Annett who volunteers with Brooklands Youth Centre. Ben said: “I’m a bit overcome actually – I never expected to win an award never mind two. What an honour to receive the Mayor’s Choice Award! I am delighted to be able to ‘put something back’.

“I get so much from working with our young people. They range in age from 5 to 19, with different abilities. No two days are the same when undertaking projects that each young person engages with in their own unique way. I would like to thank the young people for their part in helping me develop as a mentor and a leader.”

The category winners were:

  • Youth Champion Award - Falemaka El Vave, from LCC Community Trust
  • Community Spirit Award -  Stevan Wallace from Ballymacash Regeneration Network
  • Brian McDowell Volunteer of the Year Award - Ben Annett from Brooklands Youth Centre
  • Stronger Together Award -  Killynure Community Association
  • Transforming Lives Award – Stepping Stones NI
  • Mayor’s Choice Award – Ben Annett

The Stronger Together Award winner was the Killynure Community Association. Accepting the award on behalf of the group, Pamela Leighton-Greer said: “As a group of volunteers we and partner with a number of organisations on a regular basis to help enhance our local community. We deliver projects to keep our young people engaged and offer opportunities for our older residents to socialise. Cross-community is the focus of our work as our community is for everyone. As a group our different skills and experiences really does make us ‘stronger together’. This award means more than I can say.