Spirit of WIP Awards: Claire Sugden & Lisa Dietrich
WIP celebrated the achievements of Northern Ireland’s Minister for Justice, Claire Sugden MLA (Class of 2010 & 2012), and Lisa Dietrich (Director, Community Relations in Schools) at our annual Thanksgiving Ball in the Hilton Belfast.
Both Claire and Lisa received the ‘Spirit of WIP’ Award, and an original painting by WIP Alumnus Adrian Margey. Claire was presented ‘Dunluce Dreams’ by WIP Board Member Roger Downer, while Lisa was presented with ‘Under Slieve Gullion’ by Chris Lyttle MLA (Class of 2002).
Introducing Lisa, Chris spoke of the transformative work of CRIS-NI. Their innovative Buddy System has created new relationships and understanding between students, families, schools and communities. Their work has also influenced thinking and policy in the Northern Ireland Executive. At the heart of this work has been Lisa, who has led CRIS through challenging times and constantly focused on bringing communities together – two schools at a time.
Accepting the award, Lisa spoke of the practical experience of peace building – bringing students, parents and teachers together to listen, to share and to understand. She spoke of the risks for all involved to bring about real change – to truly try to challenge your preconceptions, to forgive and to create new bonds.
Introducing Claire, Roger noted her meteoric rise in politics – being appointed as Minister for Justice for Northern Ireland at the age of 29. Roger also spoke of Claire’s connection with WIP, firstly as a student in 2010 and then as a manager and mentor in 2012. He also spoke of Claire’s ongoing link to her host, Maureen Dowling.
Accepting the award, Claire thanked all at WIP for the recognition – equating the award as on a par with being elected and being nominated as Minister. Claire described herself as a reluctant Minister – attracted not by the status of the role for herself, but for the impact it could have on her constituents and for the people of Northern Ireland. She challenged all WIP Alums to consider what they could achieve by focusing on delivering change for others.
The event also included remarks from WIP’s Executive Director, Bryan Patten, and was MC’d by WIP Alumnus and Board Member, Eamonn Fitzgerald.
Special thanks to Jonny Elliott for all his work in bringing the event together!