LIFE CAN throw up tough challenges sometimes – and no-one knows that more than BBC sports presenter Amy Irons.
The radio and TV star was devastated by the death of her partner last summer.
Wayne Ewer took his own life, following a long battle with mental health issues, leaving grief-stricken Amy struggling to come to terms with his loss.
Eighteen months on, as she prepares to host the grand final of the Glasgow Community Champion Awards on December 6 at the City Chambers, she says the experience has helped her understand how hard life can be when you least expect it.
“But I think it can soften you at the same time. I feel like, after the last 18 months, I can get through anything, but I also feel like I can relate and connect to others in a far deeper way than before.
“As hard as it’s been, I remind myself there are always other people going through worse than me.”
Amy is delighted to be compere for the Evening Times Community Champion Awards, presented in association with Glasgow Fort and supported by our other partners Glasgow City Council, Glasgow Community Planning Partnership, Glasgow Housing Association and Trades House of Glasgow.
“Community has always been important in my life,” she says. “I grew up with great role models – I remember my grandad always looked after his neighbours by clearing their icy paths, taking their bins out and doing shopping for them and it really taught me we can all give a little bit to those around us who need it.”
“I have volunteered over the years with a number of charities, particularly through my mum and the work she does with disabled young people. The kids and teenagers I have worked with are some of the most caring and positive people I have met and they have taught me so much.”
Amy, who has successfully hosted several glamorous events around the country, adds: “I look forward to hosting any awards night as it’s a chance to recognise achievement. Seeing the looks on winners’ faces is always a highlight.
“What makes the Evening Times Community Champion Awards that bit extra special is that we are honouring people who really don’t expect it – they are the quiet, humble members of our local communities who give selflessly without any desire for recognition.
“They are the heroes next door and it’s brilliant an event like this exists to highlight their amazing work and to put them centre stage for a change.”
Amy dreamt of working in broadcasting for “as long as I can remember.”
She adds: “I used to make news programmes on my family’s video camera, pretending I was Jackie Bird, and I’d record my own chart show on a Sunday on my cassette player.
“I volunteered in my local radio station before and after school when I was about 15 and that just confirmed to me it was what I wanted to do.”
She adds: “It wasn’t easy, of course, it’s very competitive and it took a lot of hard work. But it’s all been worth it – I really love my job.”
Ten trophies will be presented next Friday, including a special Lord Provost’s Recognition Award.
Fighting it out for the Team Award are the Beatson Cancer Charity Volunteer Team, Reidvale Neighbourhood Centre volunteers Mary Dunn, Agnes Collins, Robert Franks and Joe Conlan and the Castlemilk Youth Complex.
The Individual Award finalists are Callum Hutchison, Elaine Leitch and Erin Boyle; the Public Service Award finalists are Men Matter Scotland, Jackie Ewing and Helen Wilson; and Red Watch at Maryhill Community Fire Station, Brian McPhee and nurse Sarah Everett are in the running for the Uniformed Services Award.
The Senior Award finalists are Musical Memories Springburn, Betty Arbuckle and Munir Choudry; the Young Award contenders are Mariya Javed, Katie Monaghan and the Govan High Gardening Team; and the Health and Wellbeing finalists are Baby Loss Retreat, Roots to Recovery and On the Ball.
West End Road Runners, Wheelchair Rugby Sevens and John Gibson are the three Sports Award finalists and the Teacher Award contenders are Craig Hayworth, Frank McArdle and Harriet Ward.
Music on the night will be performed by Sara ‘N’ Junbug, the talented buskers who made such an impression on Scottish singing superstar Emeli Sande during her TV series Street Symphony, that she invited them to support her at her Scottish gigs last month.
“We’re really honoured to perform at the awards – it’s great that hardworking people who never get recognition will be celebrated,” explains Junbug Nicoll, who formed the group with fellow Langside College student Sara Rae about 18 months ago.
Friends Daniel Scott and James Gilmour joined earlier this year and the four-piece have made a huge impression on the Scottish music scene with their fantastic blend of indie and alternative pop. They are currently working on two new singles, to be released over the coming weeks.
“We’d also both experienced the loss of people in our lives – older relatives, but also, younger friends and it made us realise that you just don’t know what is in front of you.
“Sometimes, you’ve just got to go for it.”
Follow the action live from the grand ceremony on our Twitter account via @ETCommChamps