Community heroes in the Lisburn and Castlereagh area have been recognised for their selflessness and commitment to others at a special celebration event attended by over 200 guests at Larchfield Estate.

The Mayor’s Community Awards are held annually to acknowledge the outstanding contribution of volunteers and groups from across the local area. 

Nominations were received from a diverse range of community, faith-based, sporting and arts groups.  Some of the volunteers have been contributing to their local communities for a long time and others are just starting out. All are doing wonderful work that makes such a difference to local people. 

Tom McGrory won the Brian McDowell Volunteer of the Year Award and Keigan Drummond from Brooklands Youth Centre won the Youth Impact Award. The Community Champion Award went to Nicola Williams for her work with St Columba’s Church and Old Warren Community Association. Atlas Womens Centre received the Community Group Award and the Transforming Lives Award went to Lisburn Downtown Centre for providing services to improve the mental health and wellbeing of local adults. The Mayor’s Choice Award also went to Tom McGrory for his outstanding contribution to community life.

The Mayor of Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council, Councillor Andrew Gowan said: “Tonight's event reminds us all of the remarkable power of community and of the invaluable contributions made by our neighbours, friends, and colleagues. I want to say a huge thank you for their unwavering commitment to making our community a better place for everyone.

“On behalf of the council and our partners the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust, Volunteer Now and the Education Authority, I want to congratulate our winners and also the shortlisted nominees - for it is through your passion and tireless efforts that we, as a community, continue to flourish. Thank you for inspiring us all.”

On receiving his awards, Tom McGrory added: "I picked up 156 black bags of litter in 50 days. I go out every morning at 6.30am and I'll be out again tonight. If it needs done, I just do it. 

"I want to give my thanks to the Mayor - I wouldn't be where I am today if it wasn't for him. He has inspired me to do all of this. And of course I want to mention Anahilt and Magheraconluce Community Association who are incredible - no one knows how much work they do behind the scenes. Thank you for this award, it has been a fantastic night. And congratulations to all of the volunteers."