Award Winning Ambition

Around 250 PR professionals in Belfast last Friday, 13th October for the 2017 CIPR NI PRide Awards. The awards are a celebration of outstanding public relations practice in Northern Ireland. The glamorous event, hosted by Q Radio Breakfast hosts, Stephen Clements and Cate Conway took place at the Culloden Estate & Spa. Ambition magazine won the highly coveted Best Publication award in the CIPR Northern Ireland PRide Awards 2017.

The magazine of the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry is published by The Ulster Tatler Group. Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry won the Silver winner for Outstanding In-House Public Relations Team. The night also proved unforgettable for Hollywood based company, Smarts Communicate who took home seven Gold Awards, including the coveted Outstanding Public Relations Consultancy Award as well as Seona McGrath winning the Outstanding Young Communicator title.

A Special Award for Contribution to the PR industry was also presented in memory of the late Brian Arlow, accepted by his daughters Katie and Nini Arlow. Sinead Doyle Chair of CIPR Northern Ireland remarked that for a region of its size, Northern Ireland punches well above its weight. Talented individuals and teams with first-class creativity. The Awards celebrate the outstanding professionalism and excellence that puts the Northern Ireland PR industry on the map.

Congratulations are offered to the winners and everyone shortlisted.

Check out the November issue of Ulster Tatler for all the photos and full coverage of the night!

Belfast Culture Night

Belfast’s most anticipated night of the year took place on Friday past with the atmosphere on the night bringing the city to life and creating a buzz of excitement from the City Hall right through to the heart of the Cathedral Quarter. Culture Night is one of the biggest, most inclusive and lively celebrations hosted in Belfast. Now in its ninth year, Culture Night brings together over 300 free events across 150 locations in Belfast City Centre in a single day. The event attracts over 85,000 visitors from Belfast, Northern Ireland and beyond to witness the spectacular culture on show. From live music and performances, to dancing, art, food and drink it was and entertaining night for everyone. Check out our November issue for more photos from the night.

Autumn Fair Returns to Botanic Gardens

Belfast Lord Mayor, Nuala McAllister, invites you all to the city’s beautiful Botanic Gardens for the return of the Belfast Autumn Fair to celebrate this beautiful season.

The fair will take place on Saturday 16th & Sunday 17th September. Both old and young are encouraged to attend with a wide range of activities taking place that cater to all ages. The entire weekend is free and open to all, with main events running from 12.30pm-6pm each day. There will be live music, local food, face painting, crazy golf and much more…

Don’t miss the chance to witness the captivating street performers, marvel at the award winning floral exhibits or watch the Grand Finale Band Concert. Further details on the events and times are available at 


Hillsborough Businessmen Keep Spirit of Oyster Festival Alive

Following the recent announcement that this year’s 25th Hillsborough International Oyster Festival was cancelled due to funding arrangements, a group of businesspeople from the Hillsborough area have joined forces to host the UPU Plough Fest, a mini festival designed to keep the spirit of the Oyster Festival alive in this ‘gap’ year.

The Plough Inn – owned by Derek, Richard and William Patterson – have joined together with Hillsborough native Philip Orr, Chief Executive of UPU Industries, to stage the event which is scheduled to take place from Thursday 24th – Saturday 26th August at The Plough Inn and will raise funds for next year’s Hillsborough International Oyster Festival.

Activities at the event will include, a pop-up restaurant hosted by internationally renowned Brazilian chef, Andre Lima Luca (Thursday 24th), a salsa evening complete with mojitos on the Friday, plus the main ‘Gin and Jazz’ event on Saturday – kicking off at 1pm.  Guests can enjoy some of the finest local craft gins and take on the UPU Oyster Eating Challenge from 1pm to devour one dozen oysters and a pint of the black stuff, with the fastest person taking home a £1,000 cash prize.  Saturday’s activities will continue late into the night with three live bands lined up to lead the festivities for this ‘festival with a cause’ in The Plough Inn.

For further event information please visit

Derek Patterson, Co-owner, The Plough Inn and Philip Orr, Chief Executive, UPU Industries team up to announce UPU Plough Fest, a three-day mini festival designed to keep the spirit of the Oyster Festival alive in its ‘gap’ year.

Bushmills Collaborates with Local Artists

Bushmills Irish Whiskey has collaborated with two local artists: Urban street artist, Visual Waste (Dean), and tattoo artist, Connor Curran as part of their #AnswerTheCall series which aims to celebrate and inspire artists across the country. Dean has been challenged to take a break from urban murals in favour of fine art which will culminate in an exhibit mirroring the confident and defiant spirit of the Bushmills brand, incorporating the elegance and smoothness of the whiskey.

The concept ‘Whiskey and Muses’ is a Bushmills and Visual Waste collaboration whereby Dean has created an urban interpretation of legendary artists who have inspired his career. The exhibition will take place at The Gallery, Belfast, August 24th – 31st.

Whiskey and art enthusiasts can register for the opportunity to attend the launch event on August 24th where Visual Waste will create a live paint demonstration and unveil the exhibition to friends, media and competition winners with specially curated Black Bush Whiskey cocktails on offer. To be in with a chance to attend the exclusive launch of Whiskey and Muses on August 24th, visit and register at the events section.

Connor then, from Crooked Mile Tattoo is one of the most exciting talents in the current tattoo world. He takes his inspiration from tattoos of the 40s, 50s and 60s and employs his own modern slant bringing old styles into the 21st century. As his #AnswerTheCall challenge, he has collaborated with Bushmills  to create a limited edition ‘Bushmills X Crooked Mile Tattoo’ t-shirt for bar staff across the country. Conceptualised by Connor, the t-shirt design represents the bold and defiant spirit synonymous with Bushmills whilst celebrating the innovative and creative design talent that exists in Northern Ireland. Fifty limited edition bar t-shirts are available to win at via the competition section so seize the opportunity!

Chipping in – Belfast’s Gallery Supports Golfers

The Trendy Dublin Road’s new hotspot The Gallery Cafe/Bar has announced its decision to sponsor three young golfers: Thriston Lawrence, Guido Migliozzi and South African rookie of the year, Christiaan Bezuidenhout in the 2017 Galgorm Resort and Spa Northern Ireland Open, presented by Modest! Golf at Galgorm Castle from August 10-13. The Gallery proprietor, Gary McCausland explained the support saying: “Here at The Gallery we believe in supporting young talent and as a business with cutting edge ideas, it was the perfect fit to support these players at such an iconic, innovative and local golf tournament and we look forward to watching their progress alongside the Modest! Golf team.”

Joint owners of Modest! Golf, director Mark McDonnell and musician Niall Horan joined the young athletes at The Gallery in thanks for their support. McDonnell said: ‘We thank Gary and his team at The Gallery for their sponsorship of our players for this week. We really appreciate the support for our players and look forward to seeing them play at the 201 7 Galgorm Resort & Spa Northern Ireland Open.” Horan added: “We are excited to see how this relationship can develop over the coming years, as we build strong relations with The Gallery and the 2017 Galgorm Resort & Spa Northern Ireland Open. We want to thank Gary for supporting our stable of young players and join him in cheering them on at Galgorm Castle Golf Club on Thursday.”

The selected golfers have impressive accolades already which explain their selection. Lawrence became the youngest ever champion of the South African Amateur Championship in 2013 which he successfully defended in 2014, wining the prestigious Lytham Trophy. Migliozzi is also coming off the back of an impressive amateur career winning both the European Nations Cup and the Duke of York title in 2014 and in 2016 winning the Portuguese International Amateur Championship. Bezuidenhout’s maiden victory as a 22-year-old at the Sun Fish River Challenge in October helped define his rookie season as one of the best in Sunshine Tour history. The three talents are expected to make an impression in the annual professional tournament which attracts thousands of golf fans from around the UK and Ireland.

(From L-R bottom row) Ian Watts, Niall Horan, Gary McCausland and Christen Lawrence. (From L-R top row) Guido Migliozzi, Mark McDonell and Christiaan Bezuidenhout.

Ulster Rugby Family Fun Day

Families flocked to Kingspan Stadium on Friday (28th July) to enjoy the sunshine and take advantage of Ulster Rugby’s Family Fun Day.

Individuals had the opportunity to meet the members of the 2017/18 squad as well as enjoying the off pitch activities also available.

These included a petting farm, a climbing wall, archery, a BBQ, rugby skills and inflatables.

The 3 hour family friendly event doubled up to raise much needed funds for Ulster Rugby’s charity partner, Include Youth.

For full coverage of the event see our September issue. On sale Friday 11th August.

Eastside Arts Festival

The Eastside Arts Festival 2017 programme has now been revealed, announcing their plans from the 3rd to 13th of August. East Belfast will be transformed to a hive of creative energy and everyone is invited. You can come along during the eleven-day festival which will be packed full with exciting entertainment including music and words, theatre, film, tours, visual arts, workshops and community events helping to create the perfect opportunity for a day out. The Eastside Arts festival will come to a conclusion with a Family Circus and Big Top weekend, which will ensure that the kids are kept amused.

The purpose of this event is to both help promote the local community and show support for the creative industry, while encouraging the young minds of the future to be creative.

For further information about this festival and when things are happening you can visit their

 Pictured are Ken Fanning and Tina Segner of Tumble Circus with Phil the Pharmacist aka Mary Jordan. Picture by Brian Morrison

Entrepreneurial Spirit

Four female entrepreneurs were recognised at the ‘Women in Business’s Power of 4 Pitch Awards’, which were hosted at the Merchant Hotel.

This event was held as the conclusion to this hugely successful programme, which aimed to engage and support female entrepreneurs of all ages and backgrounds within Northern Ireland, by providing participants with exclusive peer and 1-2-1 expert mentoring to help carry their ideas from concept to launch.

Participants pitched their ideas to three business leaders including the chair of Women in Business Imelda McMillen from O’Reilly Stewart Solicitors, Angela Moore from Macha Capital Partners and Sorcha Wolsey who is the Operations Director at the Merchant Hotel. The judging panel then analysed and reviewed the feasibility and potential success of each of the candidate’s concepts. With stiff competition across each of the categories the winners included Celine McDonald from ‘Its Soo Me Ltd’ within the ‘Not Yet Trading’ category, Angela Wilson from ‘Silver Apples’ who participated in the ‘Trading Less Than One Year’ category, Niamh Taylor from ‘Digital Twenty Four Limited’ from ‘Trading 12 Months or More’ and finally Claire McMullan from ‘Health Gainz’ received a special award for ‘Innovation’. The winners of the evening received £10,000 between them to invest into furthering the success of their businesses.

Women in Business’s Power of 4 winners, Angela Wilson, Niamh Taylor (left of pic), Celine McDonald and Claire McMullan (right of pic) pictured with judges (left-right centre of pic) Sorcha Wolesy, Angela Moore and Imelda McMillan at the Pitch Awards at the Merchant Hotel.

Roseann Kelly, chief executive of Women in Business commented: “We are delighted that over 70 women to date have benefited from the Po4 programme”. She continued on stating: “As an organisation we are clear in our commitment to supporting and inspiring women – the networking and support created by the Po4 programme will ignite a significant, ongoing legacy and the friendships and alliances the women make will be invaluable.”

Women in Business have established themselves as the largest and fastest growing network for women in business, as they aim to equip women with the vital skills they require to grow their businesses and climb their career ladders. The ‘Power of 4’ programme was proven a success with 70% of participants achieving their goals of transforming their ideas into a reality.

Miss Northern Ireland drives off in style with Donnelly Fiat 500

Newly-crowned 2017 Insanity Tan Miss Northern Ireland is hitting the roads in style thanks to Donnelly Group Fiat

The reigning Insanity Tan Miss Northern Ireland will be travelling in style thanks to the competition’s car sponsor, the Donnelly Group. The local Portglenone Renewable Energy Engineering student, Anna Henry, has just picked up her customised Fiat 500 from Donnelly Fiat in Newtownabbey. The Donnelly Motor Group recently celebrated it’s 70th year in business and is currently the largest independent new and used vehicle dealership in Northern Ireland.

The stunning Fiat 500 is part of the Miss Northern Ireland grand prize and is the perfect accessory to complement busy lifestyles and social schedules. The car provided by the Donnelly Group stole the attention of fashionistas all over Northern Ireland at the various Insanity Tan Miss Northern Ireland heats thanks to the wide variety of colours on display.

Michael McCulloch, Brand Manager at Donnelly Group Fiat, said: “It is only right that Insanity Tan Miss Northern Ireland travels in style, and we were delighted to be the car sponsor for the competition for the third year running. It has been an extremely successful partnership so far and we are looking forward to working with Anna and her Fiat 500 this year. The Donnelly Group is the sole retailer of new Fiat vehicles in Northern Ireland, and like the Italian manufacturer, we pride ourselves on providing our customers exactly what they want. With so many customisable features, including 14 body colour choices, chrome, stickers and nine types of wheels, your Fiat can look exactly how you desire.”

The recent Miss Northern Ireland winner, Anna Henry shone in the heats of the competition, before going on to win at a glittering ceremony at the Europa Hotel, beating the other 23 final contestants and taking the reign from Emma Carswell. Anna commented, “As the new Miss Northern Ireland, I attend many events in Belfast city centre so the Fiat 500’s in-car technology makes the daily commute a pleasure, not a chore! Being a Renewable Energy Engineering student, I was also thrilled to see the eco drive system in the Fiat 500. It is a brilliant addition to the car, helping me to reduce my carbon dioxide emissions as I drive.


 Call into any of the Donnelly Fiat showrooms in Dungannon, Eglinton, Enniskillen or Newtownabbey to get behind the wheel of the new Fiat 500 from as little as £169 per month on Personal Contract Hire.
The new Insanity Tan Miss Northern Ireland Anna Henry picks up her customised Fiat 500 from Donnelly Fiat Newtownabbey. It is the third year that the Donnelly Group, Northern Ireland’s largest new and used independent vehicle dealership, has sponsored the Miss Northern Ireland competition.



Hastings Hotels Celebrate 50 Years Of The Culloden

Northern Ireland’s leading collection of hotels is celebrating 50 years of the ownership of the jewel in its crown, the Culloden Estate & Spa.

Hastings Hotels purchased the luxurious property in June 1967, and over the course of the last 50 years, under the direction of Sir William Hastings, has transformed the Culloden in size and luxury.

“I purchased The Culloden in 1967 for £100,000, which was an extensive purchase for me back then. The 1960’s were properly named the ‘Swinging 60’s’, having left the legacy of wartime rationing and other restrictions well behind. My company was engaged in reinventing itself from a major licenced trader into the hotel business, an enterprise which required knowledge of a very different type of operation.

“Once a Bishop’s Palace, when I purchased it in 1967 the Culloden was a 13 bedroom boutique hotel with a splendid reputation for luxury and was by far the best in the province. 50 years on, I am proud to say this reputation has stood the test of time and the Culloden Estate & Spa remains Northern Ireland’s foremost five star hotel with 98 bedrooms and suites, an ESPA spa and health-club, a superb ballroom, conference facilities and meeting rooms and the Cultra Inn,” Sir William continued.

“I would like to pay tribute to the wonderful staff who have worked tirelessly over the last 50 years. To my first general manager Hugh Margey, a young hospitality graduate from the University College Dublin and to the current general manager, Eoin O’Sullivan and his wonderful team who I am indebted to for their hard work and dedication. It is by their efforts that ensures the Culloden continues to attract guests from around the world and pick up prestigious accolades most recently being named Luxury Hotel of the Year at this year’s Irish Hotel Awards and highly commended at the first ever Georgina Campbell Breakfast Awards in the Best 5-Star Hotel category,” Sir William said.

Eoin O’Sullivan, general manager of the Culloden Estate & Spa (2nd right) was joined by previous general managers of the hotel Stephen Meldrum, Hugh Margey and James McGinn to raise a glass to toast the golden celebrations marking 50 years of ownership by Hastings Hotels of Northern Ireland’s foremost five star hotel.

“My marriage in 1960 produced four children and I am thrilled to be celebrating the golden years of this splendid hotel with my family, who are all now fully engaged in the management of Hastings Hotels. My four children, Julie, Howard, Allyson and Aileen each have their own responsibilities within the company and work determinedly for the six hotels.

“Over the last 50 years we have continuously invested in the Culloden and are delighted to mark its golden anniversary. The last 50 years have shown good and bad times and so it is a delight for me to enjoy the wonderful celebratory occasion and to stand proud in the knowledge that the Culloden is trading well and trading profitability with a well-grounded reputation that will allow it to be successful in our fast moving industry today and the years ahead.

“I am proud to say that the Culloden Estate & Spa was once built for a Bishop but is now truly fit for a king,” Sir William concluded.

Full coverage of the 50th anniversary garden party will be available in our July issue – on sale Friday 23rd June. 

Dawn Crothers on Her Current Exhibition

Birthstone Snail Exhibition
‘Treasure forever what makes you unique’

From Ancient times wise men and healers have believed that gemstones have mystical powers and conduct the energies of the ruling planets with which each gemstone is associated which affect our physical or emotional well-being and healing powers. Birthstones, or Gemstones, and their attributes were related to signs of the Zodiac or month of birth and referred to as Birthstones.

My fascination of birthstones stems from when I was a young girl growing up in North Belfast. I took a trip once to the Ulster Museum where I was first introduced to gemstones. I remember the design of the Old museum where the stones were displayed in large glass cases in completely darkened rooms and highlighted by pin pointed spotlights! The colours and sparkle of the stones were amazing and I remember just wanting to take them all home.

Where I was brought up in York Park off the Shore Road I also remember collectinglots of shells and keeping them in a shoebox in my room. York Park was built on reclaimed land and the shore line came up to where I lived many years ago. I always find it strange now that I have moulded my career in painting snailsgiven I used to collect mollusks and sea shells when I was young…maybe it was a sign back then!

Since coming up with the idea of painting snails over 10 years ago the shells have always reminded me of gemstones. The variety of colour I use in each painting has really lended itself to the birthstone series and love the three dimensional element the paint has compared to the stones edges. I have also introduced some small diamond shards and gems to the pieces to give them a gem like quality and sparkle which is the first time I have ever introduced anything like this in my work.

I work on a lot of personalized commissions throughout the year where someone would request a certain colour or name the snail after a friend or family member. One of my main commissions I would undertake is for new born babies and from this I decided the birthstone Ltd Editions would be a great present given the babies month of birth and birthstone colours!


The twelve original works have all been painted on circular board and have been framed in hand painted box frames. I decided to use circles to make the series more identifiable and gem like and have also been working on a range of hand embellished canvas prints that will also be launched with the exhibition and be available online and in galleries throughout the UK and Ireland.

Since embellished canvasses involve greater involvement on my part as an artist than an unembellished one, art lovers can get a step closer to an original at a fraction of the cost. Each of the 12 birthstone snails will be hand finished and decorated by me which makes every piece unique!

I have also produced one large scale circular painting which encapsulates all the birthstones on one canvas which measures 4ft in diameter!

The birthstone series has been over a year in the making and being a mother of two young boys aged 4 and 1 years has made it more challenging to find the time to complete the series. We have a real family team though which helps everything come together as my husband and I own and run our own gallery and framing business, which is in its 10th year now. Our premises located on the upper part of the Belmont Road is set in an old stable in the grounds of a historic mansion house which really lends itself to displaying our artwork and love that we can use the building as our studio and gallery space!

The Birthstone Snail Exhibition was launched on Friday 26th May 2017 at 7pm and continues until July at Whalley Fine Art, 378a Belmont Road, Belfast BT4 2NF. The show was opened by Dame Mary Peters and has supported her charity the ‘Dame Mary Peters Trust’ supporting young people in sport.

Dawn has also just launched a new APP which is available for free to download via the Apple Store or Google Play for your mobile! Just Search ‘Dawn Crothers Artist’.