Who will be crowned our Local Hero? Meet the nominees

Dean Reilly. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

Dean Reilly. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

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Fundraisers, carers and bravehearts battle it out for 2016 award but every one is a winner when it comes to being a great example

THEY are the Capital’s unsung heroes who have gone above and beyond the call of duty.

Keith Armour

Keith Armour

They’ve been fundraising tirelessly, caring for loved ones and carrying out acts of bravery – and now their efforts have been recognised.

On Monday we revealed our shortlist for this year’s Local Hero Awards, and named the finalists across 13 different categories. The winners will be announced at a glittering awards ceremony on Friday, May 27, at the Assembly Rooms on George Street, with more than 300 people in attendance.

Evening News deputy editor Euan McGrory said: “Being involved in the judging process for the Local Hero Awards has been a humbling experience. Everyone who was nominated deserves an award so those who have made our final shortlist should be very proud.”

Judges whittled down the city’s bravest and best to just a few from hundreds of entries.

Kirsty Baird

Kirsty Baird

Forth 1’s Grant Stott will be hosting the event, and guests will see performances from a variety of entertainment acts including choir Soul Nation and former Bay City Roller Alan Longmuir.

We have also revealed the three finalists nominated for our overall accolade, the Local Hero award.

This award is the highlight of the night and will be awarded to an individual considered by the judging panel to be Edinburgh’s local hero.

Judges will select the winner either from entries received from other categories or from nominations specifically for this category.

The award will go to someone whom judges believe stands out above all other nominees.

Last year, the city saw the family of Jak Trueman, inset, take home the accolade, following his courageous battle with a rare form of blood cancer.

The 15-year-old, from Mid Calder, passed away in February 2015, after raising more than £50,000 for leukemia and lymphoma research.

His mum, Allison Barr, said: “I just thought there were so many deserving winners. We were just honoured he was nominated. Jak went through life as an underdog even though he worked so hard.

“For him to be recognised now shows how many people’s lives he touched. It shows that he is remembered and if he is looking down I think he would be amazed.”

Dean Reilly

Dean Reilly, 35, from Newcraighall, has been nominated for his outstanding fundraising efforts and bravery.

The plucky dad, who was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), has never let his condition get in the way of life.

He is about to become the first person in the world with MS to compete the gruelling Arch to Arc endurance challenge and has also completed the London Marathon this year.

Dean said: “To be shortlisted for this prestigious award is an award in itself.

“I’m humbled and overwhelmed to be a finalist in the same category that Jak Trueman won last year. He was truly inspirational, so win or lose, to be seen as being as inspirational as him is incredibly flattering.”

Dean is recognised by people in the street who follow his fundraising efforts on social media. They often stop to congratulate him.

MS is a lifelong condition that affects the central nervous system, which comprises the brain and spinal cord. It hits different people in different ways and in any one individual the symptoms can vary from day to day.

Dean has previously been invited to London by the Prime Minister to be praised for his outstanding work.

Keith Armour

Keith Armour is a 40-year-old father from Livingston who insists on raising money for charity – despite having difficulties of his own.

His 18-month-old daughter was recently diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

He also lost a number of family members in the past year and has been made redundant twice.

However, last year Keith organised an entire sci-fi convention and gave all the money he raised to charity. In February 2016, he organised a similar event at Meadowbank Stadium and raised a total of £37,600.

Keith said: “When I first found out I was a finalist in this category I had a lump in my throat – I am absolutely gobsmacked. When I got the news I had literally just come out of a meeting for organising another fundraiser.

“I really appreciate the fact that people took the time to nominate me and I am looking forward to the event.

“I do what I do because I like it, but this is an extra boost.”

Kirsty Bair & Annette Hanley

Kirsty and Annette set up the Sing in the City choirs to cater for all ages, experience and backgrounds.

They are run at nine different locations throughout Edinburgh, the Lothians and Fife, and they have allowed lonely people to meet with new friends. Some members even consider the choir to be their lifeline.

Although members’ day-to-day lives might be stressful – whether because of a difficult family life or a high-pressured job – the friendly, safe and welcoming environment that Kirsty and Annette provide for like-minded individuals to come together means many of them join more than one of the choirs.

The pair have raised almost £51,000 for local charities and are always on the lookout for organisations which could benefit from their support.

To help them run their choirs, they train people who are already involved to become coaches and assistant coaches. Their aim is to believe in all of their members and make them feel special.