THEY are the bravest and the best – whittled down from hundreds of inspiring entries nominated by the public.
Judges in the Evening News’ Local Hero Awards have today announced their shortlist across 13 categories including Inspirational Young Adult, Carer of the Year and the Bravery Award.
The exceptional individual who stands out above all the rest will be presented with the ultimate accolade, the Local Hero Award itself.
Among the candidates who have made the final stage is Gordon Aikman, nominated in the Fundraiser or Volunteer of the Year Category.
The 30-year-old from Lochend is dying of Motor Neurone Disease but is fighting back with a campaign.
He pledged to continue his charity work as long as he is able and his fundraising total currently stands at more than £250,000.
He said: “I’m absolutely delighted to be shortlisted and even making this stage is an incredible honour.
“The most powerful thing for me is not that we have raised quarter of a million pounds but that more than 4000 people have got behind this. That’s the thing that really gets to me.
“I don’t know that many people. These are strangers from all over and yet they are really desperate to do something to help. Whatever happens, I don’t want people to go through the same thing and I hope one day we find a cure.”
Terri Smith, an MSYP for Edinburgh Northern and Leith, has made the shortlist in the Inspirational Young Adult Category alongside teenager Jak Trueman, who devoted his last weeks to fundraising for charity.
Terri, a 20-year-old campaigner from Granton, is battling a brain tumour but has not let that stop her giving people a voice through the Scottish Youth Parliament.
She said: “When I found out I had made the shortlist, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, but I ended up crying.
“I was quite shocked and it still feels a but surreal.
“I don’t do what I do for recognition or awards. I just work to represent the views of young people in Scotland, particularly the most vulnerable and disenfranchised, and this is a platform to highlight the importance of young people being allowed to have their say.”
The winners will be announced at a glitzy awards ceremony on Friday, June 5, in the Assembly Rooms in George Street, when about 300 guests will honour their achievements.
Popular winners last year included Child of Achievement Amy MacBeath, who has cerebral palsy but took on a series of runs to raise funds for the Sick Kids and Thornton Rose Riding for the Disabled Association.
The top prize was claimed by Sheila and Freddie Buchanan, of Gilmerton Road, who have been foster parents for almost 30 years.
The nominees in full
Inspirational Young Adult
• Jak Trueman, 15, dedicated his last weeks to fundraising for charity as he battled a rare form of blood cancer.
• Joshua Hardwick, 15, is a board member of Tenants and Residents In Muirhouse and North Edinburgh Young People’s Forum.
• Terri Smith, 20, pictured, is MSYP for Edinburgh Northern and Leith, and is battling a brain tumour .
• Martin Graham, was hailed a “real-life superhero” after rescuing two drowning boys.
• Cassie Gunn was born with neurofibromatosis but still finds the courage to support friends and family.
• Jay Mackay sprinted from his bus to help an old man who had fallen and hit his head.
• Safezone Volunteers help provide support, advice and first aid to those vulnerable as a result of alcohol misuse.
• Bryan Finlay is Community Resuscitation Development Officer for South East Scotland.
• David Steel helps Queensferry RNLI.
• David Marshall and Thomas Lynch created Dads Rock to help give fathers time with their children.
• Lauren Knight set up a city branch of postnatal depression support group PANDAS.
• Arthur Mathieson helped set up the Edinburgh North East Foodbank in Leith.
Teacher of the Year
• David Anderson of West Calder High School
• Juliet McCann is principal teacher in the Royal Hospital for Sick Children.
• Jonathan Payne is a biology teacher at West Calder High School and head of the S6 Charity committee.
• Professor Mike Dixon, of the Western General Hospital, is a world-leading expert in treating breast cancer.
• Lynn Atkinson, 38, works with brain injury charity Edinburgh Headway Group.
• Joe Mountford Smith cares for and supports people with learning disabilities.
Carer of the Year
• Sharon Duncan is a foster carer who looks after a young person with a life-threatening condition.
• Caroline Martin has cared for her husband for nearly ten years after he suffered a stroke.
• Nicola Hogg fosters babies.
• Pappender Singh, 36, became wife’s carer after she suffered from a stroke.
Contribution to local sport
• Craig Fraser has been at Forrester Rugby Club for more than 30 years as a player and a coach.
• John McCallum recently won a coaching award.
• Les Atkinson has been involved in youth football for more than 15 years.
Fundraiser or volunteer of the year
• Lynne McNicoll raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for various charities.
• Dean Reilly devoted his time to fundraising for the MS Therapy Centre.
• Gordon Aikman, pictured, 30, has Motor Neurone Disease and has raised more than £250,000 for research.
• Jonathon Fotheringham, 16, raised nearly £8000 for the Edinburgh Cancer Centre within the Western General Hospital.
Neighbour of the Year
• David Taylor risked his life to rescue an elderly neighbour from a house fire.
• Varri Laing helps family, neighbours and friends with housework, shopping and personal problems.
• Tracey Byrne is “kind, considerate and supportive” to all her neighbours.
School of the Year
• Pilrig Park School.
• Craigroyston High.
• Liberton High.
Child of Achievement
• Chantelle Cummings is a top pupil despite battling a brain condition.
• Hannah Fee, six, was born eight weeks premature with cerebral palsy but has battled the condition with courage and good humour.
• Rachel Cameron is a member of the East Lothian badminton team and helps out at a disabled badminton club.
Local Hero Award
Announced on the night.