Champion Rob Heffernan among front-runners for award

The bookies think today’s Cork Person of the Year award winner will either be a world gold medallist or a woman who voluntarily helps feed people who have fallen on hard times.

The winner will be announced at a function in the Rochestown Park Hotel at lunchtime. At the same event, Oscar winner Jeremy Irons will receive the title of Honorary Corkman.

Robert Heffernan — who became only the third Irish athlete to win gold at a world athletics championship — is seen as a real contender for the award.

He won the 50k race-walking championship of the world in Moscow, and in doing so, broke the world record by more than three minutes.

However, the Togher-based athelete faces stiff competition from charity worker Catriona Twomey, who is chairwoman of Cork Penny Dinners.

Ms Twomey heads a team of dedicated volunteers, many of who get up at 6am every day to prepare more than 1,000 dinners a week, which they serve at their headquarters in the city’s Little Hanover St.

The charity was founded in the 1840s and, since the recession, has found itself catering for a larger of number of people, including more young families.

That’s not to say that there might not be a surprise, as it is not out of the question that the award to go to other candidates, including Angie Benhaffaf.

The mother of formerly conjoined twins, Hassan and Hussein, showed immense courage during her pregnancy, which put her life in danger, and throughout her difficult decision to separate her boys.

Jeremy Irons will be presented with his Honorary Corkman title by award-wining director David Puttnam, who last year became the first person to receive the honour.

Irons, whose acting career spans 40 years, is getting the accolade for promoting charities and arts in West Cork, participating in environmental campaigns, and for restoring his home, Kilcoe Castle, near Ballydehob.

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