Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Local unsung heroes shortlisted as SuperValu Super Stars

Bessbrook girl Anita Dennison is one of three local people whose selfless actions and contributions to their community have led to a nomination for the SuperValu SuperStar Awards.  Anita joins charitable Newry man John Dalzell MBE and community campaigner Gavin Malone on the list of 36 finalists who will travel to the Titanic Hotel in Belfast this Wednesday (November 22nd) for the prestigious awards ceremony.

The former St.Paul’s student has been blazing a trail with her inspirational anti-bullying message. The 21 year old, who is embarking on a degree in Social Work next year,  has established herself as a leading anti-bullying crusader in the last number of years, spreading her empowering anti-bullying message which is borne from her own personal experiences at the hands of malicious bullies who targeted her from the age of 11 to 16.   Anita was severely bullied both online and off but she made the decision to fight back in a positive way and shared her experience to help other young people in the same situation.  Becoming a voice for the voiceless has helped her to turn her own life around, and also that of many others.

Pressing home the anti-bullying message online and reaching out to support young people and their families who are going through difficult times because of bullying and its related mental health issues, Anita has spoken at a number of national and international events.

Now training to be a Childline counsellor, the Bessbrook woman has been chosen as a UK #iWill ambassador, promoting positive social action by young people worldwide.

Speaking to The Examiner about her nomination Anita told us she is “delighted and privileged” to be shortlisted for the awards.

She said she was using her “negative past to help as many people as possible” and added,

“It shows that no matter what difficulties you may go through there is always a positive way out. This award highlights those individuals that have experienced the difficult times and are now trying to make them positive for somebody else.

“Hopefully my nomination will help to give other young people the confidence to speak out about bullying and recognise that they are not alone. 

Seventy five year old John Dalzell MBE has been raising money for Southern Area Hospice Services with his annual Christmas sit-out on Hill Street in Newry for over 25 years, raising over £1.5m for the much loved charity in that time.  At almost 76, John has retired from the sit-out but it continues in his name with the help of friends and family – who John says “all deserve a part of any award.

Community campaigner Gavin Malone has spearheaded various campaigns in his Barcroft neighbourhood in recent years, organising clean-up operations and safety patrols on the streets of the city centre estate to keep his local community “a safe and clean place for our children to grow up.”  Gavin says that “win or lose” he is delighted to have been considered for an award which he says he owes to the “community spirit of Newry and its people.”

All finalists will attend the SuperValu SuperStars’ awards ceremony at Belfast’s top-notch new Titanic Hotel this Wednesday, sponsored by Persil, Robinson’s, Dairylea and Ben & Jerry’s.

Judges will announce the deserving overall winner who will receive a five-star holiday with their loved ones. All finalists will be presented with SuperValu shopping vouchers.