Inspirational student nominated for Spirit of NI award

June 8, 2015

A St. Paul’s student who has established herself as as a leading anti-bullying crusader after enduring a year long hate campaign at the hands of malicious cyberbullies is one of five people shortlisted in the Overcoming Adversity category for the 2015 Sunday Life Spirit of Northern. Ireland Awards, which take place this Friday.

Inspirational A Level student, Anita Dennison, was targeted by the anonymous bullies when she was just 16.  Instead of crumbling under the pressure of the vicious abuse and the stresses of studying for GCSE’s, she was determined to use her experience in a positive way to help other young people in the same situation.

The 18 year old started her own anti-bullying website and Twitter campaign two years ago with the aim of reassuring both children and adults alike who are suffering at the hands of bullies that they are not alone. Anita encourages victims of bullying to open up to share their fears and speak to family and friends or support groups such as Childline or Lifeline.  Every day she posts a positive message on her Twitter account in an attempt to lift the spirits of anyone who may be struggling with abuse.

The resilient teenager has also spearheaded the development of a zero-tolerance approach to any form of bullying in St. Paul’s and her local community.

Speaking to The Examiner ahead of this Friday’s glittering awards ceremony at the Culloden Hotel, Anita said being nominated for the Spirit of Northern Ireland was “an incredible feeling” and something she “never in a million years” expected.

“For the past few years I have watched the awards on UTV and the stories of each individual were equally as inspiring as they were emotional” said Anita.

“After such a negative experience with bullying – online, physical and verbal – I never thought that I would be looking back on it in a positive light, never mind to have made such an impact on an individual that they felt the need to nominate me” added the inspirational schoolgirl.

She credits the support of family and friends as well as her school, in particular principal Jarlath Burns, with helping her through the “years of torment” she suffered both on and offline.

“I feel like a completely different person as I am now able to use my negative experience as a positive to benefit the lives of other people. This nomination for overcoming adversity has to be the icing on top of one incredibly tough experience for me,” she said before appealing for the individual who nominated her to contact her so she could extend her gratitude.

“For me this nomination is for anyone who has faced an obstacle in their life that they feel they couldn’t overcome, but with the strength and courage buried deep within them they feel as though they can conquer the world.

“I am very much looking forward to a night which is stress free from A Levels, as well as meeting the most inspirational people that our country has to offer.”

The awards will take place at the Culloden House Hotel in Hollywood this Friday June 12th.  The event is hosted by UTV and sponsored proudly by Specsavers and The Sunday Life.

All 15 nominees along with their family and friends will be treated to a first class evening of food and entertainment, including performances from Louis Walsh’s new boyband Hometown and comic May McFettridge.