Shine a light on Highland Heroes
IT'S time for lift off for Highland Heroes 2018 – and this year we are launching the awards in association with Inverness Airport.
We're not looking to the skies for our heroes, though. The kinds of heroes we're talking about are much more down to earth.
Our towns and villages are filled with men, women and young people doing their bit to make a difference in their communities.
Here at Scottish Provincial Press, we think these people should be recognised for the vital contribution they make to individuals' lives and to society as a whole – making the Highlands a better place to live, work and play every day.
And we want you, our readers, to tell us who they are.
Graeme Bell, general manager of the awards' headline sponsor Inverness Airport, said: "I think it's fantastic that people out there who normally wouldn't be recognised actually have the opportunity not only to be awarded and short-listed but also to be nominated.
"It's about people's drive and enthusiasm to go far and above the call of duty to make things work for people or to make things special for people.
"A lot of them probably don't think they should be recognised because they think 'I'm just doing my job' so this is about making them realise that they really do make a big difference.
"I'd make a plea to look around you for your local heroes. You're bound to see people going above and beyond – and I think they are key words – the people that are going out of their way to make a difference to someone else's life and make that difference the person themselves can't make."
The awards are divided into 12 categories and we'll be focusing on these in more detail over the next few weeks as the nominations begin to pour in.
Last year's inaugural Highland Heroes event was widely regarded as an outstanding success, with 12 inspirational individuals chosen by public vote to receive their awards at a ceremony in Inverness.
They were even the subject of an early day motion in the Westminster parliament, when Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey MP Drew Hendry offered a message of support to all short-listed candidates.
Nominations for Highland Heroes 2018 are now open in all categories, with a deadline of midnight on Saturday, September 1.
You can also nominate your Highland Heroes online at www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/HighlandHeroes2018
Once we've received all your nominations, our carefully selected judging panel will draw up a shortlist of three nominations from each category.
The shortlist, along with the stories of all the nominees for each award, will be published in a special supplement at the end of September.
Readers can then vote for the person they think is the most outstanding choice in each category.
Once the votes have been tallied, the winners will be announced at a ceremony at the Kingsmills Hotel in Inverness on Thursday, November 8. All those who have been short-listed will be invited to attend and there will be prominent post-event coverage in our newspapers.
Mr Bell added: "It's down to the public to have their voice heard and that's the best bit about it. It's not a room full of judges making up their mind – it's saying to the public, 'here are the stories, you decide'.
"It's the ultimate thank you, really."