A Newtownabbey sports coach has been highly commended at the annual Justice in the Community Awards.
Glengormley man Danny Corr, who runs the Zanshin Karate Jutsu Dojo in Mallusk, received the commendation from Justice Minister David Ford during the recent awards ceremony at Stormont.
The awards recognise the efforts of individuals and teams, voluntary workers and staff working within community and statutory organisations across Northern Ireland.
Danny, a two-time world sport jujitsu champion, was one of eight ‘highly commended’ award winners from across Northern Ireland. He was nominated for the award by the Northern Ireland Youth Forum.
The Forum works in partnership with Danny and the Zanshin Karate Jutsu Dojo, referring young people, many of whom have been involved with serious crime or anti-social behaviour, to the gym for free mixed martial arts courses and coaching programmes.
The initiative involving males and females aged 11 - 24 years has proven a great success, with many of the young people going on to coach younger children.
Danny admitted he was a bit surprised when he was named among the award winners.
“To be honest I thought I was just there to make up the numbers,” he told the Times. “When they called my name out it was a real surprise.
“It’s really nice to get the award and it’s great for the gym to get this mainstream recognition.”
Mr Ford added: “These awards are an opportunity to pay tribute to the exceptional work that is going on within the heart of our community. This is work that we hear so little about, by people who go the extra mile to make Northern Ireland a safer, better place for everyone.
“That these awards are funded by the proceeds of assets seized from criminals makes it all the more satisfying.”
A total of 48 nominations from across Northern Ireland were considered by an independent judging panel which included Brendan McGuigan, Chief Inspector of Criminal Justice, and Una McKernan, Deputy Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action.
Paul McCartney, of First Housing Aid and Support Services in Londonderry, was named the overall Justice Champion for 2016.
He received the accolade in recognition of his work assisting the most vulnerable and marginalised, including street drinkers and rough sleepers.
• For more information about Zanshin Karate Jutsu Dojo log on to www.b4mma.co.uk