'Real-life heroes are an inspiration'
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DARREL Paterson is surrounded by superheroes every day. As event director of Highland Heart Events he's currently organising NessCon, the comic convention held at Inverness Ice Centre from August 25-26.
Although he's talking to Power Rangers, Jedi masters and knights from Game of Thrones on a daily basis, it's our real-life Highland Heroes he's most looking forward to meeting.
Darrel said: "It's our job at NessCon to celebrate the fictional superheroes of comic, TV and film and we're delighted to be bringing Power Rangers and other guests to Inverness, as well as giving people a chance to dress as their favourite hero for the weekend.
"I'm even more thrilled to be sponsoring the emergency services and armed forces hero of the year category in the Highland Heroes awards again.
"They truly are the unsung real-life heroes who go out of their way every day to keep us safe.
"Just like our fictional superheroes, they're the ones running towards danger and life-threatening situations. They might not wear a cape or be able to fly but their superpowers are truly awe-inspiring.
"They quietly get on with it, say it's all in a day's work and want nothing in return.
"So I think it's important to let them know how much we really appreciate their commitment and bravery, to show our support and give them the recognition they deserve."
It's the second year of our Highland Heroes awards which recognise people who go above and beyond the call of duty to help others and make our communities better places to live, work and play.
Readers of five weekly Scottish Provincial Press newspapers across the north are being invited to nominate their local heroes across 12 categories.
Darrel said: "NessCon is thrilled to be a sponsor and the team at Highland Heart Events is looking forward to using our superpowers to set the scene and decorate the venue for the awards evening in November.
"Last year it was such an honour to attend the event, present an award and share the stage with real-life hero Jamie Magee from Bettyhill.
"When he was told two young girls were being pulled out to sea, the off-duty volunteer coastguard launched his nearby motor dinghy and raced out to their rescue, dragging them both out of the water, while narrowly avoiding nearby rocks."
He added: "I couldn't believe the stories of all the people nominated at last year's awards.
"I was in tears hearing some of them. The kids in particular affected me – I couldn't believe how brave they had all been.
"I'm not that brave and I have Thor's hammer sitting in my office.
"These real-life heroes are an inspiration to us all."
Nominations for Highland Heroes 2018 are now open for all categories, with a deadline of midnight on Saturday, September 1.
To nominate somebody you feel deserves recognition, fill in this form and post it to Highland Heroes, Scottish Provincial Press, New Century House, Stadium Road, Inverness, IV1 1FG or email it to firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also nominate your Highland Heroes online at www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/HighlandHeroes2018
A judging panel will draw up a shortlist in each category before readers are given the opportunity to vote for their favourites.
The winners will be announced at a ceremony at the Kingsmills Hotel in Inverness on Thursday, November 8.