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‘True gentleman’ Billy in the running for ‘Superstar’ accolade.

Thursday, 23 November 2017

‘True gentleman’ Billy in the running for ‘Superstar’ accolade. thumbnail Strabane man, Billy Diver’ who has been named as Strabane SuperValu’s ‘Superstar’ ahad of the province-wide awards ceremony at the Titanic Hotel, Belfast, today (Wednesday).

A STRABANE man whose selfless actions have made a difference to the lives of others in his community is a finalist in SuperValu's 'Superstar' competition.

Over the last number of months, the supermarket giant has been searching for unsung heroes who have gone above and beyond.

As well as recognising people who have done remarkable things or who have come through incredibly difficult times the awards aim to acknowlege those who make a difference to people's lives in small but life-changing ways.

Each of SuperValu's 36 stores have crowned a local finalist to go forward to today's (Wednesday) grand finale.

Seventy-two-year-old Billy Diver, from Carrick Strand, has been named Strabane SuperValu's 'Superstar' and few would disagree that the former businessman's name is one that is synonomous with community life here in the town.

A keen fisherman in his day, he has spent a lifetime doing what he could to bring more life to the town.

The father of seven was nominated for the accolade by his proud daughter, Mary McDaid, who came across the competition on Facebook at the beginning of summer.

She said her father, who retired 12 years ago, inspires his family every day.

"My father has done a lot for people over the years up until he retired. A few months later he took a stroke and is quite unwell now but we are hoping he can make the awards ceremony.

Anyone who is into fishing will know him," she explained.

As a founder member of the Strabane Lifford Anglers Group alongside Stephen McGale, Mr Diver's passion for fishing saw him turning an almost lifeless stretch of the River Mourne into one of the finest fishing spots in the country.

Following six years of planning, Billy's vision became a reality and the group secured funding to launch the 'Between the Bridges' project in 2002 which saw the creation pools for fish to spawn and flourish in the local river system.

As Mary explained, the idea came from the family's many holidays to Co. Mayo, where her father loved nothing more than to fish.

"He had the idea for years taken from our family holidays in Ballina, Co Mayo. He turned our river into one of the best fishing rivers in Ireland creating pools for fish to lay in.

"He also started the fishing club creating jobs for the local people of Strabane. There is a pool called 'Billy's Pool' which the local fishermen have named after him.

"He is a true gentleman and great father and is an inspiration to us all," she added.

Mr Diver is also well-known for having run Divers Guns & Tackle Shop in the town centre alongside his wife, Francena.

He has also sponsored numerous fishing competitions locally and helped inspire many young anglers. In fact, when it comes to angling, his name his sure to be the first on many people's mind! "He is very well-known across the locality and he has always worked cross-community so we thought it would be nice to recognise him especially all that he's been through with his health," Mary said.

The awards show is taking place today in the Titanic Hotel, Belfast, where all the finalists will get their chance to shine. The winner followed by two runners-up will also be named.

Mary added: "We are all planning to go up and make a day of it. Hopefully daddy will be well enough to go too.

"I don't know if anything will come of it but it is nice for my father to be recognised and we are all very proud of him." Desi Derby, head of marketing at SuperValu, has wished all the finalists well ahead of today's grand finale.

"We've had a fantastic response and we would like to thank everyone for taking the time to nominate," he added.

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