The fifth annual Ardee BAFTA Awards took place on Saurday night – on an evening that saw McGoey’s Pharmacy pick up the gong for Best Customer Service, while Keith Kerr’s KK Construction has awarded the title of Best Newcomer for 2016.
Around 250 people attended the ceremony at the Nuremore Hotel and the crowd also saw Noelle Douglas and Paul Farrell be named the Businesswoman and Businessman of the Year respectively. Ardee Concert Band emerged victorious in the Best Community Involved Group category while Callaghan’s Butchers won the Age Friendly Award.
Before the night reached it’s end, the Ardee Traders & Business Association made one more special presentation. That went to local man Willie Martin, who’s long term project to bring the story of the burning of the Wild Goose Lodge to the big screen became a reality in 2016.
Vinny McCoy was the compere for the evening and kept things rolling in between the dinner and the dancing, with a little help from Joe Finnegan and his very tough Ardee shop exterior quiz. That kept the crowd guessing KK Construction’s Keith Kerr who beat McGoey’s Caoimhe O’Neill in a tie-break. After the raffle it was time for the awards.
The first award handed out on the night was undoubtedly a hotly-contested category. Decided by a public vote, the Christmas period had seen huge pushes online and off to encourage people to vote for each nominee. Ardee St Marys and Ardee & District Athletics Club flew the flag for local sports club, while institutions Ardee Concert Band and Ardee Hospice were also in the running, as well as Dee Hub.
With the help of John Hennessy, Ardee Concert Band were announced as winners – with band member Dermot Murray on hand to accept the award.
Peter Callaghan was next to be called to the stage as Callaghan’s Butchers was named the winner of the Age Friendly Award. They fought off competition from Declan Curran Electrical, Ardee Post Office, Moorehall Lodge and O’Flynn’s Pharmacy to emerge victorious.
The final category to be decided by public vote was the Best Newcomer Award for Best New Business in 2016. With seven nominees, there was more competition for this gong than anyone other. Annette’s Alterations, Ardee Jewellers, Boylan’s, Knead Bakery, Mjolnir Tattoo and Simply Fashions were all in contention – but following on from his quiz triumph, Keith Kerr was back to accept the award on behalf of KK Construction.
The biggest cheer of the night to that point was reserved for the winner of the Ardee Businesswoman of the Year award – and this year’s winner was Noelle Douglas of Douglas’ Nurseries. Noelle was stunned to hear her name read out and spoke very graciously about her win in a short thank you to the crowd.
That award was dubbed the ‘Hillary Award’ and so, the Ardee Businessman of the Year was to be awarded the dubiously titled ‘Trump Award’ honour. That honour fell to Paul Farrell, of Farrell Furniture. Donning a Trump wig, he began his acceptance speech by proclaiming; “We will build a wall and make Ardee great again!”
On a more serious note, Paul thanked the Farrell family and his staff at the factory for their efforts. “Ardee is a great wee town. We have a good community,” he added. “We will give back whatever we can to the town. If anyone needs anything that we can help out with, we will do it.”
Bryan Lynch was on hand to open the envelope for the final scheduled award of the night – the Bend Over Backwards award for Best Customer Service. CSM Printing, Malone’s Texaco Service, Station Gerry O’Dowd Vet and O’Brien’s Stationery were among the nominees – but McGoey’s Pharmacy were deemed to have bent over backwards the best in 2016.
Johnny McGoey paid tribute to his staff, and the crowd seemed to agree, joining in a concerted round of applause for the staff on accepting their award. “They’re absolutely brilliant,” he said.
The very last presentation of the night wasn’t in the programme – nor was it expected by the recipient, Willie Martin. For his achievement in being the driving force behind the Wild Goose Lodge movie – which had a nationwide release back in October – Willie received a special award from Vinny McCoy and Hughie O’Neill.
“Ardee and the surrounding areas are an unbelievable community. They all want businesses to succeed and help eachother. I would like to thank everyone who helped with the movie. A lot of people will hopefully now come to Ardee to see the Wild Goose Lodge,” he said. “I’m so emotional, this is just fantastic.”
In his closing address, chairperson of the Ardee Traders Hughie O’Neill thanked McCoy for his work as the compere, Deirdre Dickson and Anita Halpenny for their goody bags, he thanked the guests, businesses, the Nuremore Hotel, Joe Finnegan and Stephen Englishby for their work on the night – and Bartle Landy Financial Services, for their work specifically in relation to Ardee Town vouchers.
There’ll be a full gallery of images from the night on ThisIsArdee.ie and on Facebook over the weekend – so keep an eye out!