Ulster University trio credited for bringing major global event to Belfast

Visit Belfast welcomed more than 100 of Belfast and Northern Ireland’s academic, medical and professional elite to the Ulster Museum in recognition and commendation for their focused efforts in positively promoting the city, and for their assistance in helping to secure multi-million pounds worth of conferences and events for the city.

Among the 10 honours, the prestigious Belfast Ambassador of the Year award for 2015 was won by Ulster University doctors Catrin Rhys, Anthea Irwin and Karyn Stapleton, who were recognised for their drive in ensuring organisers of the sought-after International Pragmatics Conference chose Belfast for its annual event in 2017.

Held this year in Antwerp and previously Malta and New Delhi, the 15th International Pragmatics Conference will welcome 1,200 delegates to Belfast over five days, generating a potential £2.2 million for the local economy.

The event will make full use of the new, expanded facilities of the Belfast Waterfront, due to open next May.

Gerry Lennon, Chief Executive, Visit Belfast, said:

“Behind Visit Belfast, and our industry partners, there is a committed team of professionals who devote their time, knowledge, insights and passion to helping us promote the city, and Northern Ireland, to conference organisers, agents and associations where contacts, recommendations, experience and relationships are vital.

“Our annual Belfast Ambassador Awards recognises all those individuals who assist us in supporting and growing the conference sector – I’m proud and humbled by not only the hard work within their specialisms but by the results which they have achieved in bringing visitors to the region. My sincerest thanks to everyone involved.”

The annual Belfast Ambassador Awards form part of the Conference Ambassador Programme, established in 1999 to enlist the help of local influencers from a range of sectors including medicine, pharmaceuticals, ICT, agriculture and public administration – over 70% of all business events are secured by the help of an ‘ambassador’ who can use their influence to persuade their organisation, or association, to host their next major event in Belfast or Northern Ireland.

Visit Belfast leads the Business Ambassador Programme on behalf of Invest Northern Ireland and Tourism Northern Ireland.

Susie McCullough, Director of Sales & Marketing at the Belfast Waterfront, where the International Pragmatics Conference is due to take place, said:

“Our congratulations to Doctors Catrin Rhys, Anthea Irwin and Karyn Stapleton on their joint Ambassadors of the Year award.

“Our newly-extended facilities which will open next May, enable Belfast to host larger and more complex events and conferences such as the International Pragmatics Conference, which will attract 1,200 international delegates across five days in July 2017. The dedication and influence of Catrin, Anthea and Karyn over the last two years has been instrumental in securing this prestigious event for the first time, following in the footsteps of previous host cities Antwerp and Melbourne.”

Visit Belfast is a public-private sector partnership, representing over 500 tourism businesses. Funded by Belfast City Council and supported by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, Visit Belfast has strategic partnerships with Translink, Diageo Northern Ireland and Value Cabs, as well as corporate partnerships with Hastings Group, Victoria Square and Titanic Belfast.


For more information, please contact David Cullen or Nikki Larkin on 028 9042 7004 or by email dave@lkcommunications.co.uk

Notes to Editors:

The Winners (Award Sponsor in brackets):
Ambassadors of the Year        Anthea Irwin, Catrin Rhys, Karyn Stapleton (Ulster University)
Karin Jeffrey                           Routes Europe (Hastings Hotels)
Norville Connolly                    IBA mid-year conference (McCombs)
Joanne Hughes                        BERA (National Museums of Northern Ireland)
George Black/John Morrison   Royal British Legion National Conf. (RadissonBLU & Park Inn)
Louise McMahon                    European Assoc. of Hospital Managers Congress (Hilton)
Jim Donley/Geraldine Hughes  GMB Congress (Clayton Hotel)
Dearbhaile Mulholland             Powerscreen 50th Anniversary Event (Titanic Belfast)
Dr Say Quah                           Joint British Assoc. for Sexual Health & HIV and the Society for the
Study of Sexually Transmitted Diseases (Abbey Conferences)
James McIntosh                      Recognition Award (Fitzwilliam Hotel Belfast)