RTÉ broadcaster Brenda Donohue today presented the 2014 Hidden Hearing Heroes Awards honouring those who made a significant, and often unheralded, contribution to society.
Members of the public were invited to nominate their ‘hero’ who they felt deserved to be recognised for awards across seven categories such as ‘Age Is No Barrier’, ‘Triumph Over Adversity’ and ‘Unsung Hero’ and the winners were chosen by a panel of judges.
The winners included 97-year-old Maureen Cronin, who played a key role in getting the marriage ban lifted for teachers and nine-year-old Quaid Cleland, who was recognised for his campaign to promote the use of Irish Sign Language.
Ben Wallace (aged 15) was chosen as winner of the ‘Triumph Over Adversity Award’ for completing his Junior Certificate this summer while in hospital undergoing chemotherapy.
Congratulating the winners, Brenda Donohue of RTÉ said: “I’m extremely happy to present these very special Awards, which celebrate the triumphs of inspirational people and give them the recognition they deserve.
“Congratulations to all of today’s winners, who have demonstrated bravery, courage and tenacity in the face of adversity and who have enriched the lives of others.”
Stephen Leddy, managing director of Hidden Hearing said: “Now in its fourth year, the Hidden Hearing Heroes Awards are an opportunity for the Irish public to honour people in their community for their successes and achievements.
“Heroes come in all shapes and sizes and we’re delighted to pay tribute to these exceptional people who have demonstrated that nothing is impossible.”
Nine-year-old Quaid was chosen as the winner of the Youth Award for his crusade to get Ireland using Irish Sign Language (ISL) and help bridge the gap between hearing and Deaf children and adults. Although he can hear, Quaid was introduced to ISL at the age of six by his mother Derval who was studying communication with the Deaf.
97-year-old Maureen Cronin played a key role in getting the marriage ban lifted for school teachers in 1950s Ireland. She became a test case for the INTO Teachers’ Union when she defied the ban and carried on teaching in Limerick for a full year without pay, then continuing her career until well after the ban was eventually lifted in 1958.
Kevin has played a role with organisations such as the Irish Deaf Youth Association, the Catholic Institute for Deaf People, Leinster Deaf Sports Council, Deaf Heritage Centre and the Disability Equality Specialist Support Agency over almost 30 years.
Fifteen-year-old Ben was nominated by his mother Orla for the determination and courage he has demonstrated since being diagnosed with leukaemia in August 2011. Despite undergoing gruelling chemotherapy, Ben was so determined to complete his Junior Certificate this year that he did his exams at Crumlin Hospital and received his results. Ben was unable to attend the Awards as he is due to get a bone marrow transplant next week donated by his seven-year-old sister Ava.
Dr Phelim Donnelly has provided compassionate and consistent care to all of his patients for over 50 years and continues to do so. He also worked tirelessly as President of the Medical Union and as President of the Irish Medical Organisation fighting for doctors in the workplace.
Cork woman Sonya Keogh was nominated for creating and directing summer SING! and SIGN!, a joint musical performance for the Deaf and hearing in association with the Cork Deaf Association at the Triskel Christchurch Centre. Sonya is an opera singer and Creative Director of ARTlifeCULTURE.
Valerie was awarded the Family Award for the care and support she has given to her 95-year-old father Charles who has hearing loss. Despite losing her husband last year and working at two jobs, the Sandyford woman remains optimistic and dedicated to caring for her father.