[button link="http://www.belfastpix.com/app/WebObjects/ANGShop.woa/wa/c?c=S_S6QxrYNko0KdTOQ2KCQD9YdYBFwCwQBl565q29554.a" size="large"]40 Under 40 2012 Images[/button]

Young people are stepping up to the mark to build tomorrow's Belfast. That's the message from this year's Belfast 40 Under 40, which recognises 40 of our talented young people.

Michelle O’Neill, Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, and the only Executive Minister under 40, was the guest speaker at the fifth annual Belfast Top 40 Under 40, hosted by Belfast Media Group with Premier Partner NYSE Technologies, in the Great Hall, Queen's University on 16 February.

Raising a glass to the up-and-coming leaders of Belfast, the 40 Under 40 celebrations showcased the verve and vigour of 40 of the city’s most outstanding and youthful achievers.

Joining Platinum Business Partner NYSE Technologies to back this year’s event are the Northern Bank, Bombardier, George Best Belfast City Airport and the Kennedy Centre.

Said Minister O'Neill:“It is a privilege to be guest speaker at this year’s event. Within my peer group, there are many accomplished and inspiring leaders throughout the island who are playing their part in improving economic, social and political life.  I congratulate each and every one of them on the work that they’ve done and will continue to do and it is my hope that the next generation of leaders will be inspired by our achievements.”

Said Tony McManus, Head of Operations, NYSE Technologies: "“NYSE Euronext is proud to be a Platinum Sponsor of the Top 40 Under 40. This event reminds us that our local universities continue to produce world-class talent and put Belfast on the world map. The NYSE Euronext Centre of Excellence in Belfast continues to hire new talent from the region, and the Top 40 under 40 is great way to recognise the talent, entrepreneurship and excellence that exists across a range of sectors and business in Northern Ireland. Congratulations to all of the Top 40 under 40 nominees who each deserve special recognition for their hard work, dedication and innovative service.”

Said Connla Lawlor, Head of Events at the Belfast Media Group: “In tough times, Belfast needs young role models to look up to and we have those in spades with the Belfast 40 Under 40. We’re particularly pleased that we have a new generation of politicians, from every shade of political opinion,representing the new, united voice of Belfast."

Among the high-flying achievers on this year's listing are Crusaders captain Colin Coates, graduate of the US-NI Mentorship Programme Ashley Maybin, Cllr Claire Hanna of the SDLP, rock photographer Carrie Davenport and entrepreneur Luke Wolsley.

Special Achievement Awards went to Shankill jobs activist Gary McKay, Dr Pedro Rebelo, Director of Research at world-renowned Sonic Arts Research Centre at QUB, chef Dominic Hanvey, teacher Emer Mhic an Fháilí, Ciara Brennan of social enterprise UnLtd, Helen McKeever at the Community Foundation for NI and Claire Trainor of NI Hospice.