Young Star Search

The Young Star Search is a kids' talent radio competition based in Northern Ireland and is the current holder of the New York Festival Gold Award for best global radio station promotion. It was also nominated two years running at the UK Arqiva Radio Awards. Most recently the competition aired on Belfast CityBeat from 2007 -2010 and invited applications from kids aged 8–16 from across Ireland and in 2010 'Young Adults' aged 17–25.

Young Star Search was developed by Northern Ireland radio presenter Stuart Robinson for Castle FM in 2002 based in Carrickfergus, the competition also ran on Bangor FM from 2004, before completely moving to Belfast CityBeat in 2007. Stuart Robinson hosted the show while judges included record producer Micky Modelle.

Due to Robinson's sudden defection in late 2010 from Belfast Citybeat to rivals Cool FM / Downtown Radio the contest was cancelled in 2011. It was unclear if, or when, the contest would return and on what station it would be broadcast. The show returned in 2014 and was broadcast on Downtown Radio and presented by Paul Orr who, like Robinson, used to be a presenter on Belfast Citybeat.

The competition held auditions in April of each year, preceded by weekly heats in different areas of Northern Ireland between May and July. The semi-final and final, featuring regional winners was staged in Belfast's main shopping centre, Castle Court in August.

Young Star Search, is the biggest talent search for young people in Northern Ireland and boosted over 1,000 entries.

Young Star Christmas Tour

The Young Star Christmas Tour was a spinoff from Young Star Search which run in 2007 and 2008 on Belfast CityBeat, the tour seen the Young Star (junior) winner from that year headline a group of young singers to perform at Christmas events around Northern Ireland, including the Belfast City Council Christmas Light Switch On. (senior winner performs solo on tour)

In 2007, Rachael Stewart was joined by five other finalists, however in 2008, separate auditions were staged to find fellow band members form Rachel Pearson.

2007 Group members:

  • Rachael Stewart
  • Jordan Richmond
  • John Gillen
  • Deborah Morrison
  • Zoe Skillen
  • Rhian Gourley

(Song Performed - Happy Xmas War Is Over)

2008 Group members:

  • Rachel Pearson
  • Rhian Gourley
  • Fay Cairnduff

(Song Performed - Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree)


Stuart Robinson has been the host of Young Star Search since 2002.

Notable judges

2002–2005 Keith Semple ITV's Popstars Group - One True Voice
2003–2004 Maurice Jay U105 Programme Controller
2003–2008 Tina Calder Sunday Life showbiz journalist
2004–2009 Robin Elliot NVTV & Citybeat Radio Presenter
2007 Shaun Rogerson The X Factor Contestant
2007–2008 Gerard McCarthy Hollyoaks actor
2007 Dana Eurovision Song Contest winner
2007 Bel's Boys CITV
2008 Rachel Tucker I'd Do Anything finalist
2008 Niamh Perry I'd Do Anything Finalist
2008 Tabby Callaghan X Factor Finalist
2008 - today Mickey Modelle Music producer / DJ
2008 Jessy Singer
2008 Brian Kennedy Singer
2009 Geraldine Hughes Actress
2009 Emma Fitzpatrick Sunday Life
2010 - today John Kearns MTV presenter
2010 - today Amy Ryan Belfast Telegraph

Past winners

2002 (Summer) Carrickfergus Darcy McLean Natalie Brown
2002 (Christmas) Carrickfergus Darcy McLean N/A
2003 (Summer) Carrickfergus Sophie Hollran Michael Callahan
2003 (Christmas) Carrickfergus Cloe Skelton Casey Wallace
2004 Carrickfergus Emma McBride Julie Gower
2004 Bangor Devon Crossley Niomi Stewart
2005 Carrickfergus Gemma Hall Samantha Gray
2005 Newtownabbey Kirsty Crawford Megan McConnell
2005 Bangor Hayley McCann Kathryn Rutherford
2006 Carrickfergus Cherelle Duffrin Donald Montgomery
2006 Bangor Nicole McGoogin Tammy Corbett
2007 Northern Ireland Rachael Stewart Laura May Lenehan
2008 Northern Ireland Rachel Pearson Caitlin McClurg
2009 Northern Ireland Anna Guest Nicole Campbell
2010 Northern Ireland Emma Lowry Jessica Hammond Saoirse Hallam

Other alumni

Other judges

  • Andy Pugh 2002-2008
  • Maurice Taggart 2002-2004
  • Fat Tam 2004-2005
  • Justin Macartney 2002-2003
  • Mark White 2006
  • Minty 2007
  • Justin McGurk 2007
  • Keri Moore 2007
  • Seaneen Kane 2007
  • Garrett O'Hare 2008
  • Natalie Miller 2008


  • 2002 Joanne Corrigan
  • 2002 Shauna Walker
  • 2002 Angela Kennedy
  • 2003 Nicole Sloan
  • 2003 Laura Gilbert
  • 2003 Lauren Dunahoe
  • 2003 Sam White
  • 2004 Stacey McCalister
  • 2004 Seaneen Kane
  • 2005 Sarah Hutcheson
  • 2005 Becky Steed
  • 2005 & 2006 Julianna Edlin
  • 2006 Hannah Rose Henning
  • 2007 Deborah Morrison
  • 2007 Eiblin Stewart
  • 2008 Brooklyn Dunseith
  • 2008 John Gillen
  • 2009 Aoife Kane
  • 2009 Leona Hughes
  • 2010 Shauna Lillywhite
  • 2010 Zoe Skillen
  • 2010 Kerry Wilson


  • Darcy McLean is the only person to have won Young Star twice.
  • Julianna Edlin from Carrickfergus has come closest to winning most often without actually winning, finishing 3rd in 2004 and 2nd in both 2005 and 2006.
  • Jon Gillen has also finished 4th in 2005, 3rd in 2007 and 2nd in 2008. Zoe Skillen has finished 5th in both 2007 & 2008 and runner-up in 2010
  • Casey Wallace,Donald Montgomery, Julie Gower, Megan McConnell and Nicole McGoogin had all previously entered Young Star before winning.
  • Rachael Stewart is the most successful Young Star winner in terms of votes, followed by Caitline McClurg and Sophie Hollran.
  • Seaneen Kane was previously runner-up of Young Star in 2004 (Bangor) before becoming a judge in 2007.
  • In 2008, the senior section had the closest final ever with John Gillen losing by only 30 votes.
  • Rhian Gourley featured in the 2007 and 2008 Young Star Christmas Group.
  • In 2009 Rachael Stewart (2007 winner) competed again, this time finishing fourth.
  • In 2009 Rachel Pearson (2008 winner) competed again, this time finishing fourth.
  • Chantelle Macateer from Dromore has now finished 8th in 2008 and 2009.
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