Gallaher Trust - Making a Difference Awards

The Gallaher Trust Celebrates Fifth Birthday and Creation of 276 Jobs

INDEPENDENT charity, The Gallaher Trust has hosted its ‘Making a Difference’ (MAD) awards at the Galgorm Resort and Spa marking its fifth birthday and the creation of 276 jobs, the upskilling of 1,222 people and the support of 1,185 disadvantaged adults during this period.

The Trust also took the opportunity to thank the delivery partners on their various achievements to date and for making a real difference to the lives of people living in the Ballymena community.  

Distributing in the region of £350,000 each year to local groups, by 2025, The Gallaher Trust plans to commit £3M to support its delivery partners and create over 400 jobs, develop skills for over 1,700 adults and provide support for over 1,600 disadvantaged adults within the Ballymena area. 

Hosted by the BBC’s Jo Scott and with keynote speaker, the Oscar award-winning actor James Martin, the MAD awards gave The Gallaher Trust the opportunity to celebrate local community groups and organisations as they received awards for their work in the local area. 

Invited guests heard about the work of the Trust and how, through its initiatives such as Northern Ireland Hospitality School, 51 people have been trained through its Bar and Restaurant Academies, six chefs through the Chef Academy and 19 individuals have been trained by Mid and East Antrim’s Manufacturing Task Force’s Manufacturing Excellence Academy. 

During the MAD awards event, guests listened to the keynote speaker, James Martin who outlined how his journey from his student days through to working in Starbucks to receiving an Oscar for his performance in ‘An Irish Goodbye’ short film, and an honorary doctorate from Ulster University, had ultimately been possible due to his determination in trying something and not giving up. His story is testament that, with the right support and opportunities, anything is possible.

Ian Paisley MP, Chairman of The Gallaher Trust said; “We were delighted to host the ‘Making a Difference’ (MAD) awards.  The Gallaher Trust was established over five years ago, in response to the closure of the JTI/Gallaher factory, and in recognition of its 75-year presence in Ballymena, JTI donated a £5 million legacy to help support the local community. Since then, the Trust has been able to make a real and tangible difference to the community through its delivery partners and their various projects. 

“From a men’s shed to scholarships, from retail training to manufacturing and hospitality academies, the impact on the community has resulted in job creation, upskilling and training and support being provided to disadvantaged adults. Today, I’m very proud of that work, my fellow trustees and ultimately of the delivery partners.  It was great to take a moment and reflect on how far we’ve come and, together, recognise the hard work of our partners as well as celebrate the many and wonderful achievements of those who benefit from The Gallaher Trust. 

“It was also a delight to hear from James Martin – it’s not every day you get to hear from an Oscar winning actor and James Martin’s speech was truly inspirational. We appreciate him taking the time to speak to us today about how it was local community groups and training opportunities that helped him on his exceptional acting journey.”

Following the keynote address, the awards were presented by Dr James Martin. 

The award category and winners are as follows:

  • Making a Difference by Achieving Success through Collaboration – Northern Ireland Hospitality School
  • Making a Difference by Business Creation and Innovation – Ballymena Business Centre
  • Making a Difference by Filling the Employment Gap – Mid and East Antrim’s Manufacturing Task Force
  • Making a Difference by Providing a Pathway to Employment  – Prince’s Trust
  • Making a Difference by Educating for Success – Northern Regional College, Supporting Communities and Ulster Farmers’ Union
  • Making a Difference by Training for Success – Habitat for Humanity
  • Making a Difference by Providing Skills for All – Triangle Housing
  • Making a Difference by Enhancing the Quality of Life – Age NI
  • Making a Difference by Addressing Community Issues  – Women’s Aid
  • Making a Difference by Promoting Social Cohesion –  Men’s Shed

During the event, which was supported by JTI, Nicky Small, JTI UK Head of Corporate Affairs spoke of the creation of the Trust and how it came about. She said, “We made the decision to create the Trust in 2016. Our ambition was to build upon the Gallaher legacy of charitable giving in Northern Ireland.  Before we created the Trust, we consulted local people on exactly what support they wanted for the community. They told us they wanted investment to support economic regeneration and job creation, and that’s how The Gallaher Trust was born.

“The Trust has delivered an incredible impactful programme of job creation, local skills development and community support over the last five years. There are so many local people that have made this happen – our congratulations and thanks to everyone involved. We are excited to see how the work of the Trust continues even further over the years to come.” 

Established in 2017, the Gallaher Trust is an independent charity, working to support delivery partners that promote job creation, skills development, and provide support to disadvantaged adults in the wider Ballymena community.  Each spring, it encourages eligible organisations to apply to become one of its delivery partners and avail of its funding opportunities.  To find out more about how to apply please visit  

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