Cloughmills teacher in running for top Gold 'Plato' award

THIS Hallowe'en is set to be a truly thrilling time for local schoolteacher Eugene Mullan as he heads off to London as a regional winner in the 2010 Teaching Awards.

He will be among a group of outstanding teachers, heads, governors, teaching assistants and school teams - representing 12 schools from the province - attending the Awards UK ceremony at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane this Sunday, October 31

Eugene, who teaches at St Brigid's Primary in Cloughmills, was the winner of The Specialist Schools and Academies Trust Award for Outstanding New Teacher of the Year

and he will find out on Sunday if he has won the ultimate accolade – a gold Plato that is education's symbol of excellence.

The glittering event before 2000 guests will be hosted by comedian and actor Lenny Henry CBE and screened on BBC2 at 6pm.

Twelve UK winners will receive awards from famous names including Teaching Awards president and Oscar-winning actress Emma Thompson, patron Henry Winkler, Education Secretary Michael Gove, 'Strictly Come Dancing' judge Craig Revel Horwood and actress Amanda Burton who was born in Derry.

Lenny Henry CBE said: 'I am proud and excited to be hosting the 2010 Teaching Awards UK ceremony. I'm looking forward to honouring great teachers who have a passion for what they do and who know about unlocking potential. It couldn't be more important and I'm excited to be involved.'

All the 86 UK finalists are treated to a prize weekend in London with a guest, staying two nights at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge hotel which has a spectacular view of Big Ben. All are now fellows of the Teaching Awards 2010.

Events over the weekend include a Saturday night drinks party, a fellows' seminar, the Theatre Royal ceremony broadcast on BBC2, followed by a glittering gala dinner. It will be a memorable end to the half term holidays.

The Teaching Awards were founded by Lord Puttnam in 1998 and the UK ceremony is broadcast on the nation's screens every year. The programme gives a real insight into school life – the fun and laughter as well as the hard work.

Gordon Topping OBE, DL is taking on the role of Chair in Northern Ireland. He is the successor of Professor Fabian Monds CBE who has been a trustee since the beginning of the Teaching Awards, has been chair for two years and a judge since 2006.

Gordon said: 'I am delighted and honoured to have been asked by the Teaching Awards to play a part in acknowledging the excellent work of teachers and others associated with our schools. It is very important to recognise and celebrate the positive influence teachers have on young peoples' lives and the contribution they make to society'.

Anyone can say 'thank you' to an outstanding teacher, headteacher, teaching assistant, governor or school team by making a nomination for 2011 at

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