Kildress mother-of-six, widowed at 34 and cancer survivor, wins hero award for charity work

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A Kildress mother-of-six who was widowed at an early age and has battled cancer been recognised as one of Northern Ireland’s unsung heroes.

Bernie Girvan received a Tesco Local Community Hero Award for her remarkable charity work while overcoming her own challenges.

Bernie was nominated by one of her daughters, Julie McAllister.

She received a special Community Hero trophy and a Tesco giftcard at the Tesco Cookstown store. It was presented by store manager Craig O’Neill.

In her nomination Julie said: “My mummy is a fantastic person. She was widowed at 34 when my daddy died suddenly of a heart attack and raised six children on her own.

“After daddy died she had to go out to work to provide for us, and she worked hard to put us through school and eventually university.”

Julie explained that in 2007 her mum was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a mastectomy.

After treatment Bernie contacted local charity LILAC – Living Life After Cancer and they provided her with excellent emotional support and gave her the will to live again.

Julie continued: “In 2008 mummy got the brilliant news that she was cancer free. Due to LILAC’s support, she decided to give something back to the community, so she volunteered to work in the charity’s Cookstown shop. Mummy has got a new lease of life from doing this.

“She loves helping people, talking to them about their concerns and advising them on life after cancer. My mummy deserves to be recognised as a community hero as she tirelessly helps others all the time without complaint.”

The award is aimed at recognising and rewarding people who have shown true hero qualities, either in the way they might have coped with adversity or the manner in which they have helped others.

Tesco Northern Ireland is currently urging its Facebook followers to nominate individuals or groups for a Hero award.

Caoimhe Mannion, Tesco NI’s Marketing Manager, said: “Each day in our 50-plus stores across Northern Ireland we come across people who do really great work in the community but often receive very little recognition for it.

“This award is our way of rewarding individuals like Bernie, as well as groups, who are unsung heroes in the community.”

Further details about the Local Community Hero Award, including terms and conditions, can be foun