Who is your hero?
Whether we’re aware of it or not, we all have heroes in our lives. There are many kinds of heroes, and some are closer to us than we realise. Some people triumph in the face of adversity, achieve against the odds and sacrifice for others, so many of them do it quietly and without recognition.
The Hidden Heroes Awards was set up by Hidden Hearing to recognise the work of people who overcome some hardship or difficulty to make a worthwhile contribution to society. Across 11 categories Hidden Heroes recognises the people who inspire us the most. Here are ten of the categories and an example of people who achieved remarkable things despite facing challenges that most of us don’t have to face.
Age is no barrier – Jimmy Magee
80 year old Jimmy Magee is a veteran sports broadcaster. Known as the "Memory Man", he has spent over half a century in sports broadcasting, and has presented radio and television coverage of the Olympic Games since 1968 and the FIFA World Cup since 1966.
Young hero – Donal Walsh
Donal Walsh the Kerry teenager who touched many lives when he came to prominence through his writings and subsequent appearance on Brendan O’Connor’s ‘The Saturday Night Show’ fundraised tirelessly while battling cancer. The Donal Walsh Livelife Foundation was set up by his family primarily in order to promote his anti-suicide Livelife message.
Family hero – Team Hoyt – Dick and Rick
Team Hoyt comprises father and son, Dick Hoyt and Rick Hoyt from Holland, Massachusetts, who have competed together in various athletic endeavors, including marathons and Ironman Triathlons. Rick has cerebral palsy and during competition Dick pulls Rick in a special boat as they swim, carries him in a special seat in the front of a bicycle, and pushes him in a special wheelchair as they run. Team Hoyt was inducted to the Ironman Hall of Fame in 2008.
Healthcare hero – John Hinds
Dr Hinds was one of a largely self-funded team of doctors, nurses and paramedics who responded to crashes at Irish national and international races. He was also acknowledged worldwide as an expert in the field of emergency and motorsport medicine. John was also a friend, mentor and teacher to many in both the biking and medical communities. One of Irish road racing’s famous travelling medics, he lost his life following a crash during practice for the Skerries 100 races near Dublin.
Sporting hero – Michael McKillop
Michael is a triple paralympic gold medalist winning 800m and 1500m at London 2012 and holds world records for both distances. Michael is also the reigning world champion, winning double gold at Lyon 2013.
Company hero – Guinness Partnership Ltd
With more than 60,000 homes and 120,000 residents, The Guinness Partnership Ltd is one of the largest affordable housing and care providers in the country. In 1890 Sir Edward Guinness set up The Guinness Trust, donating £200,000 to the Trust in London, with an additional £50,000 for the Dublin Fund, which later became the Iveagh Trust. His vision was to provide decent and safe homes for working class people.
Social inclusion hero – Rory O’ Neill AKA Panti Bliss
Panti Bliss is a self-proclaimed ‘accidental and occasional gay rights activist’. Panti delivered an incredibly impassioned and powerful post-show oration at Dublin’s Abbey Theatre, as she spoke about prejudice and homophobia in the aftermath of the RTE controversy surrounding her appearance on the Saturday Night Show. Panti was also heavily involved in the Yes Equality campaign.
Unsung hero – Daniel O’ Donnell
Daniel O'Donnell is an Irish singer, television presenter and philanthropist. After rising to public attention in 1983 he has since become a household name in Ireland and Britain; he has also had considerable success in the US. Daniel’s decision to vote Yes in the Marriage Equality Referendum no doubt influenced a lot of older voters who would admire him.
Unsung heroine – Roisin Halligan
Róisín Halligan, 11, threw herself on her one-year-old cousin Lexie to protect her from the flames after a petrol bomb was thrown through their lounge window while they watched TV. Roisin suffered serious injuries to her face, neck, arms and legs.
Triumph over adversity – Mark Pollock
Mark Pollock is a Northern Irish adventurer, athlete, rower, author and international motivational speaker who became the first blind man to race to the South Pole. When Mark was five, he lost the sight of his right eye and was forced during the remainder of his childhood to avoid contact team sports to preserve the vision in his left eye. But at aged 22 he lost the sight in his left eye and was then suddenly blind. An avid rower Pollock has won bronze and silver medals at the 2002 Commonwealth Rowing Championships in Nottingham, England and has also written a book titled ‘Making It Happen.’
The Hidden Heroes Awards were established in 2011 to honour those who have made a significant contribution to Irish society, their community, workplace, family or through sporting excellence.
This year the awards will be hosted by RTE’s Mary Kennedy at a gala lunch on Monday 19th October in the DoubleTree by Hilton – Burlington Road, Dublin. Nominate a friend, co-worker or family member and they could become one of Ireland’s newest Hidden Heroes.