Banbridge man Stephen Lowry, who had his right hand blown off in a bomb blast in 1985, is one of five nominees shortlisted in the Specsavers Overcoming Adversity category for the 2014 Sunday Life Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards .
Stephen was caught in the explosion while working as a DJ at Cupid’s Nightclub in Newry, and is the first person in Ireland to be fitted with a state of the art bionic hand.
The 51-year-old IT engineer from Larchwood, was chosen to trial the new £40,000 Bebionic artificial hand by surgeons at Musgrave Park Hospital’s Regional Disablement Services.
Stephen’s new hand has helped him do pretty much everything, even use cutlery, something he hasn’t been able to do since losing his real hand.
He even aims to qualify to fly a micro light aircraft solo thanks to the revolutionary new prosthesis, made by Leeds based company RSL Steeper.
Stephen still has vivid memories of the night he lost his hand.
“I remember it like it was yesterday. I remember it blowing my hand off,” he said.
“I remember saying to myself ‘I’m too young to die here’ so I managed to get up and start walking.
“Then I passed out, and next thing I woke up again in the ambulance.”
Tony McGinn, Specsavers Northern Ireland Chairman said: “Year on year we are humbled and inspired by all of their stories and look forward to meeting them all at the gala final on May 30.”
All 15 nominees along with their friends and families will be treated to a top class night of great food and entertainment at the gala final in the five star Culloden Hotel on May 30. UTV will again be recording this year’s awards for a special TV programme.
Entertainment will be provided by 2013 The Voice winner Andrea Begley and comic John Linehan aka May McFettridge. Winners in the three categories, as chosen by a judging panel headed by TV star Gloria Hunniford, will be announced on the night, as will the overall Spirit of Northern Ireland Award winner, who will receive a £1,000 cash prize from Northern Ireland’s fastest growing care recruitment and domiciliary agency, Peninsula Care Service.