THREE inspiring young people from the Mid Ulster area have had their achievements in overcoming adversity honoured by football hero David Beckham and Olympic medallist Jessica Ennis at a glittering ceremony at the Sky Studios in Middlesex.
Nominated by their proud teachers at St Mary’s Grammar School and St Pius’ X College Magherafelt, Katie Walker, Joe O’Hagan and Sean Mallon were each named Highly Commended in the Sky Sports Living for Sport Awards, which took place on Tuesday last.
The “phenomenal” courage and effort of Cookstown teenager Katie Walker on her first ever ski trip earlier this year led John McElholm, Head of PE at St Mary’s Grammar, to put her forward for the prestigious prize.
“Katie was absolutely brilliant on that ski trip and also by taking part in a Fun Sport project here at the school”, explained Mr McElholm.
“She is just fantastic. If the opportunity is there Katie will take it, despite suffering from spina bifida. The will power and positivity that she shows are simply inspiring.”
Katie’s fellow St Mary’s schoolmate, Joe O’Hagan, who is registered blind, was praised for the “transformation” from a lonely and introverted student to one who is able to make friends thanks to the school’s Sky Sports Living for Sport Fun Sport project and the inspiration of his sister Fionnuala, regional winner of the Sky Sports Living For Sport Student of the Year Award in 2012.
Joe’s eye disorder, achromatopsia, means he not only has poor vision but is blinded by sunlight and he had previously found it impossible to take part in sport, often sitting alone with a classroom assistant at break time while classmates played football.
The third local young hero, Sean Mallon, had low self-esteem when he first arrived at St Pius College, however, he was so inspired by kickboxing that he threw himself into the project and thanks to his mentors learned the importance of discipline, respect and positive attitude. The teachers, families and friends of all three award winner are understandably hugely proud of their fantastic achievements.