Ireland’s Hidden Heroes Revealed

by Alison O'Hanlon
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Celebrities from the world of TV and entertainment turned out to congratulate the winners of the 2023 Hidden Hearing Heroes Awards in Dublin.

Kin star, Yasmin Seky, singer Daniel O’Donnell, TV personality Mary Kennedy, actress and new mum, Jenny Dixon, and TV presenters Emer O’Neill, Nuala Carey, and Alan Hughes, were among the guests at the gala awards ceremony to acknowledge Ireland’s everyday superheroes, who do extraordinary things.  

Eleven heroes from around Ireland received awards, including new category winners for 2023, acknowledging our Immigrant Heroes, Diversity Heroes and Sustainability Heroes. All recognised for ordinary and extraordinary acts of kindness, community, and determination that make a difference in Irish society.

The new awards highlight Ireland’s evolving society, according to Stephen Leddy, Hidden Hearing’s Managing Director.  He congratulated the heroes supporting a more inclusive society, those working towards sustainable communities, and the ordinary people battling exceptional challenges with courage and determination.

It is humbling to recognise the selfless acts of others, and what can be achieved by these people who instinctively put others first.   The Hidden Hearing team and our guests here today are very much in awe of Ireland’s Hidden Heroes.” 

Winners included Diversity Hero, 35-year-old Jonathan Dillon from Dublin, a musician who trained to provide music therapy for the special needs group his brother attends, helping the boys relaxation, social engagement, and enjoyment of life. 

Jonathan Dillon named 2023 Diversity Hero

The Immigrant Hero award went to Malawian-born Dylan Rebello, a Dublin-based special needs assistant in a Primary School, who encourages children from all walks of life to play, laugh and learn together, regardless of their background.

Dylan Rebello Immigrant Hero award

Mia Tiernan from Finglas in Dublin, was named the winner in the Young Hero category, Mia was selected for her volunteering work at the Finglas United Football for All Programme. The fourteen-year-old helps coach at the football programme that provides a sporting and social outlet for players aged 5-18 that have varying special needs.  

Mia Tiernan from Finglas in Dublin, was named winner of the Young Hero Award

Ballyfermot Kenpo Karate Champion James Poland was named 2023 Sporting Hero. Jimmy was cited as generous with his time and commitment to those in his community, particularly younger people, looking for challenge and purpose and an outlet to train and make friends.

James Poland was named 2023 Sporting Hero

Jimmy has been training kenpo karate in Ballyfermot since the 1970s, and is a 9th degree Black Belt Chief Instructor. He often coaches freely and has brought club members to international competitions, where they have brought home multiple world championships.  Jimmy, himself, is a highly decorated competitor and was a six-time International Champion.  

The Hero for Families facing Adversity Award went to Lucan Nurse Elaine Taylor. As a specialist children’s and general nurse, Elaine has dedicated most of her life to supporting those with disabilities and illness.  She has volunteered with the Order of Malta Ambulance Corps for over 40 years, assisting with training, treating members of the public, and providing community care.

Nuala Carey with Hero for Families facing Adversity Award winner Taylor

In 2005, she established the ‘Share to Care’ project, which sees children and young adults with disabilities spend weekends at Share Village in Lisnaskea, County Fermanagh

Congratulating the winners, ceremony MC, Mary Kennedy told guests that the heroes awards scheme is supported by Hidden Hearing because, like our hearing, special people can sometimes be taken for granted and not fully appreciated.

“It is important to also acknowledge everyone who nominated these wonderful people.  Our winners deserve recognition because, too often, we forget to recognise the ordinary people, doing extraordinary things, quietly, within their community or family,” Mary Kennedy said.

Pictures Julien Behal

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