JUDGES for the Local Hero Awards have been inspired by the outstanding quality of this year’s entries.
Nominations for the competition celebrating the unsung work of community champions have closed, with the shortlist being announced next week.
But judges including Frank O’Donnell, managing editor of The Scotsman, Evening News and Scotland on Sunday, have admitted they face a tough challenge to pick a winner.
The competition includes 13 categories and will culminate in the highest honour, the Local Hero Award, given to an exceptional individual who stands head and shoulders above the other candidates. Among the judges will be Tony Kenmuir, a director of Central Taxis, who has been particularly impressed with the standards of those nominated.
He said: “We were involved in the event last year and we were bowled over by the impact it had on the local population.
“We were very touched and inspired by many of the stories, so much so that we decided to increase our commitment to supporting the event. I will be looking for people who have gone above and beyond. I’m not necessarily looking for highly emotive stories but for people who have really triumphed in the face of adversity and overcome personal difficulties.
“They don’t need to have single-handedly prevented a plane crash or rescued a wounded soldier but they will have touched the lives of people around them in a positive way. There are some people that I’m really excited about meeting.”
Among those nominated in the Inspirational Young Adult category is Terri Smith, an MSYP for Edinburgh Northern and Leith.
The 20-year-old campaigner from Granton is battling a brain tumour and suffers from seizures and lung problems but she has not let that stop her giving people a voice through the Scottish Youth Parliament. Derek Burt, from Dalkeith, has been nominated in the 999 Hero category after performing life-saving CPR on his girlfriend – now wife – after he woke to find she had stopped breathing. Rather than panic he immediately started trying to resuscitate her using the methods shown in an advert starring ex-footballer Vinnie Jones.
Joe Mountford Smith, from Bankford, has been nominated as Health Champion for helping people see beyond their learning disabilities, while 38-year-old Lynn Atkinson, from Penicuik, is up for the same award for her work with brain injury charity Edinburgh Headway Group.
Other judges include Anna Light, head of engagement at Edinburgh Airport, Stuart Shepherd of Costa and Jane Ferguson of the Edinburgh and Lothians Health Foundation.
Ms Light said it was “heart-warming” to see the entries to the Local Hero Awards this year, adding: “I wish that everyone who enters could win as the things people are doing in our community are inspiring.
“As a judge, I’m looking for entries that make a difference to someone’s life and for that are a hero.”