INSPIRATIONAL Community Champion, Shelley Cowan, had a clear message last week: “Never give up!"

The room erupted in applause when Shelley was named the Community Champion of the Year, which was the final, and most significant, award of the night.

A standing ovation accompanied Shelley as she proudly made her way to the stage, amid scores of hugs and well wishes.

"All I can say is, when you think the impossible can be achieved, never give up," she said, almost overcome with emotion, but regaining her composure.

"I never thought I would be in a wheelchair. I never thought that I would be standing. And I certainly didn't think I would be here tonight!"

The room erupted once again.

"Never, ever give up!" concluded the brave Tamlaght woman, who has overcome immeasurable adversity to win the coveted award.

Despite being bedridden for 12 years, losing her sight and spending ten years in a wheelchair as a result of ME, Shelley determinedly embarked on a mission to maximise life's opportunities.

Part of this journey was founding JustUs, which provides inclusive social and cultural outlets for adults with a disability.

Speaking following the ceremony, she said: “I never ever would have thought that I would be achieving this in my life.

"It just goes to show that the impossible is never impossible. There is always something to be done, and as people say, 'never say never'!

"I hope that this award will show people that anything is possible. You may have a disability, but you have other abilities, and it shows people that you are capable of many things.”

Fiacre O'Donnell, from lead sponsor, Encirc, described Shelley as "inspiring".

"Seeing Shelley lift the award was just amazing," he said. "The challenges that this lady has come through to be standing here, holding this award, have been significant.

“Her story will no doubt inspire others to do all they can to overcome adversity. Her words, ‘don't ever be beaten’, will be truly inspiring to so many."

Speaking on the success of the Impartial Reporter Community Champion Awards, he added: "All told, what a brilliant evening!

“It's been amazing to see the people that are here, and to give them well-deserved recognition for all the things that they do so selflessly, day in, day out."