A Glasgow man who has used his own childhood experience to help children in hospital has been named the overall winner at the RBS - Finding Scotland’s Real Heroes awards ceremony hosted by Carol Smillie on STV.
John O’Byrne from Bellahouston also won the category of Community Champion of the Year. He impressed the voting public and ultimately the judges for his work to bring happiness to the patients of the Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow.
John who has Brittle Bone Disease knows all too well what it can be like to be in hospital long-term. He set up the John O’Byrne Foundation so others could experience relief from the worry and monotony of hospital stays. John manages the foundation single-handedly and through it he is able to purchase gifts and put on events to brighten the children’s lives.
John said: “Winning Community Champion of the Year was a shock in itself especially given the fantastic achievements of my fellow nominees... but to be the overall winner was the biggest shock of my whole life. I never thought anything like that would happen to me and the news is still sinking in. I’d like to thank everyone who voted for giving me the proudest moment of my life so far.”
As well as John, community heroes from across Scotland were recognised at the awards ceremony, where 11 awards were handed out by famous faces, including actor Clare Grogan, Taggart star Alex Norton, and TV present Jackie Brambles to Scots who have worked tirelessly to improve the lives of people in their local area.
Earlier this year, the Scottish public were asked to nominate friends, neighbours, groups and even animals who they thought deserved to be recognised and the judging panel revealed a shortlist of nominees after an overwhelming response. Each week six nominees in two categories were showcased for the RBS - Finding Scotland’s Real Heroes series in which the viewers were invited to vote for the candidate they believed most deserved to collect an award.
Elizabeth Partyka, deputy director of channels at STV, said: “Congratulations to John for becoming the overall winner of the RBS – Finding Scotland’s Real Heroes awards. The STV series has been a fantastic celebration of people in our communities who go the extra mile to improve the lives of others. The awards ceremony was a truly befitting way to reward and recognize the hard work of these inspirational Real Heroes.”
RBS - Finding Scotland's Real Heroes is sponsored by The Royal Bank of Scotland.
Chris Wilson, Royal Bank of Scotland’s Managing Director of Branch and Private Banking in Scotland, said: "I’d like to personally congratulate John and all of the category winners from this year's RBS - Finding Scotland's Real Heroes series. The calibre of nominations STV received this year was exceptionally high so to have been chosen as the winners from amongst so many worthy and inspirational finalists is no mean feat. The awards ceremony was a truly humbling experience and everyone at The Royal Bank of Scotland is proud to have been able to play a part in recognising Scotland's unsung Real Heroes."
The full list of category winners is as follows:
Overall Winner and winner of the category, ‘Community Champion of Year’ John O’Byrne from Bellahouston in Glasgow
Hero Mum/Dad of the Year Joe and Betty Middleton from Bathgate, West Lothian
Carer of the Year East Kilbride Dementia Carers Group
Young Real Hero of the Year Lee Falconer from Maryhill in Glasgow
Neighbour of the Year Donna Fitzpatrick from Fullarton, Irvine
Fundraiser of the Year Tom Gilzean from Edinburgh
RBS Community Project of the Year Paragon Music, Glasgow
Sporting Volunteer of the Year Janice Millar from Darvel East Ayrshire
Hero Animal of the Year Jewel the Pony from Ravelrig RDA in Balerno, Midlothian
Scotland’s Real Heroes Courage Awards
Paul Surgeon from Kirkintilloch, East Dunbartonshire
See what all of the winners had to say about their awards here.