THERE was a standing ovation from the 250 attendees of the Cork Person of the Year Awards as Stephen Teap, a leading campaigner on behalf of all those impacted by the CervicalCheck screening failures in Ireland was crowned Cork Person of the Year.
In July 2017, Stephen’s wife Irene lost her battle with cervical cancer following two incorrect test results in 2010 and 2013, which missed pre-cancerous cells and the early stages of the disease, leading to her delayed diagnosis in 2015.
Ten months after Irene’s passing, the CervicalCheck debacle came to light following the Vicky Phelan court case, which exposed how the misreading of smear test results in a lab meant an enormous amount of Irish women had received incorrect diagnoses.
In 2018 Stephen, alongside fellow campaigners, Vicky Phelan and Loraine Walsh launched the 221 + Patient Support Group, which helps victims directly affected by the CervicalCheck screening failure, providing them with advice, information and support. He is also one of the patient representatives on the Cervical Check Steering Committee, whose members include representatives from the Department of Health, the HSE and the Irish Cancer Society.
Last August, Stephen met with An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Health Minister Simon Harris and played a crucial role in the arranging of a formal apology on behalf of the State to the women and families affected by the CervicalCheck scandal.
Speaking at the time, Stephen noted, “One of the reasons for an apology is that it starts the healing process.” Stephen is the father of two young boys, Oscar (5) and Noah (3). Speaking about the profound effect the CervicalCheck scandal had, Stephen said: “I felt this scandal affected everybody in Ireland, and it was not just a problem for women, but for everyone who’s lives were impacted. On behalf of all those families affected, I want to make sure that the problems surrounding the Cervical Check Screening Programme and general women’s health are improved upon for Irish woman in the future. This great honour will now further help promote our work to get accountability and justice for all involved."
The gala awards lunch, held at Rochestown Park Hotel marked the 27th year of Cork’s premier award scheme. The award judges were the Cork City Chief Executive, Ann Doherty and the Chief Executive of Cork County, Tim Lucey.
The Person of the Year was chosen from 12 Persons of the Month selected over 2019.
They were Editor of the Holly Bough, John Dolan; singer Máire Ní Chéileachair; Frankie Sheahan and his wife Norma Murphy, the duo behind Pendulum Summit; head of Cork Penny Dinners, Caitriona Twomey; Carmel O’Keefe, founder of the Cork 'Dress for Success' branch; Tim Sheehan of Mallow Development Partnership and Gerard Sheehan of the Doneraile, Buttevant, Mallow Community First Responders Scheme; Dinny Kiely, the longest-serving member of Cork City Missing Persons' Search and Recovery team; William Hammond and Jim Walsh, co-founders of the Cork Folk Festival; amateur golfing star, James Sugrue; Peter Coppinger and Daniel Mackey, founders of Cork tech company Teamwork and renowned hurler, Patrick Horgan.
Other outstanding Cork people presented with awards included renowned Fermoy Businessman, Philanthropist, Educationalist and Environmentalist, Dr Tom Cavanagh winner of the Hall of Fame award and historian and broadcaster Dr John Bowman, who was officially dubbed an honorary Corkman.
A special award was also presented to Mary Kennedy to mark her retirement from RTÉ’s Nationwide.
RTÉ’s Marty Morrissey and Áine Lawlor were the MCs of the event, which was attended by representatives of all sectors of Cork society, including senior public representatives, Tánaiste Simon Coveney TD; Leader of Fianna Fáil; Tom Fitzpatrick, Editor, Irish Examiner; Lord Mayor of Cork City; Mayor of Cork County; Bishop Paul Colton; Bishop Fintan Gavin; Geraldine O'Leary RTÉ; Liam Kavanagh, M.D. Irish Times; Anne Cassin and Eoin Ryan, Nationwide.
Hall of Fame recipient, Dr Tom Cavanagh is only the third Corkman to enter the Hall of Fame. Dr Cavanagh graduated from UCC with a Commerce degree in 1951 and joined the family motor trade business. He went on to become synonymous with the Ford brand and motoring in general throughout Munster. Over the decades, he has established a number of philanthropic organisations, such as the Tomar Trust and Irish Business Against Litter League (IBAL). He has maintained a close relationship with UCC since graduating and his work with the university was recognised in 2006 when the Pharmacy Building at UCC was renamed the Cavanagh Building. In 2018 the Cavanagh Bridge was named in his honour. Dr Cavanagh has been a director of Warner Lambert; a national trustee of the MS Society; a patron of the Cheshire Home, Cork; and a director of AIB and continues to be very active with social causes.
Speaking on his achievement, Cork Person of the Year founder Manus O’Callaghan lauded Dr Cavanagh for his “relentless pursuit of a fairer society for all”.