Search is on for the Local Heroes of 2020

The Johnson and Johnson Daily Dispatch Local Heroes for 2019 posing for a photo at the ICC in East London.
The Johnson and Johnson Daily Dispatch Local Heroes for 2019 posing for a photo at the ICC in East London.
Image: Mark Andrews

Entries for the Daily Dispatch and Johnson & Johnson Local Heroes campaign have officially opened. Now in its sixth year, the campaign hopes to continue the tradition of honouring and celebrating ordinary people who do extraordinary things for their communities.

Initiated in 2015, the Local Heroes campaign sees 12 heroes chosen as finalists from a pool of nominees sent in by readers throughout the year. Each of the finalists is awarded and honoured at a gala dinner.

To date, Local Heroes has recognised and awarded 60 good Samaritans for their dedication and commitment to improving the lives of those around them.

One of the 2019 local hero finalists, John Goodrich, said Local Heroes had made a huge impact on his project.

Goodrich repairs old computers and donates them to schools or centres in need, while also running a training programme for teachers and unemployed youngsters.

“The cash prize I won has been put back into the project," he said. "I've managed to upgrade the computer classroom for my training sessions.

“But I think the biggest highlight for me was meeting the other local heroes. Before the event we had never crossed paths and now I've managed to help two or three of the other heroes with repairs and second-hand computers.”

Tessa van Heerden, known as the "furry godmother" was also honoured as a 2019 finalist. She was nominated and chosen as a Local Hero for her work treating and caring for neglected and injured animals in local townships.

Van Heerden said: “Local Heroes gives so much credibility and a feeling of self worth to the individuals honoured at the event. I strongly recommend that the East London community nominate their heroes, because they are often not seen or celebrated. The recognition and exposure received because of the Local Heroes campaign goes a long way for us.”

Daily Dispatch marketing manager, Jennilee Peremore-Oliver said the Dispatch had a successful fifth birthday celebration of Local Heroes last year and encouraged readers to submit their nominations for the 2020 instalment.

“We're proud to be on this quest again with our loyal partner, Johnson & Johnson, which has committed with the Daily Dispatch to encourage our local citizens to be heroes and to inspire our readers with their selfless stories of love and compassion for their communities.”

Johnson & Johnson spokesperson Michelle du Preez said: “We're very excited about the stories that 2020 will bring. We've seen some truly inspirational stories come out of the Local Heroes campaign in the past and I have no doubt 2020 will be just as amazing.”

Du Preez said a new service category had been added to this year's Local Hero campaign.

Peremore-Oliver said that an individual who goes above and beyond the call of duty will be awarded, as part of this new category, at the Local Heroes gala event.

“This year we wanted to recognise someone who goes the extra mile within their working capacity such as nurses, firemen or police officers and we encourage the public to also take these individuals into account when nominating their local heroes,” said Peremore-Oliver.

Du Preez said: “The Local Heroes Awards have evolved and changed over the years, but there will always be more heroes to celebrate and that's what makes our city and country so special — there are so many people doing extraordinary things to help others.”

To nominate your local hero e-mail a 500-word motivation for the nominee's selection to localheroes@dispatch.co.za. Nominees must make an impact in the Eastern Cape and preferably their outreach should be as local as possible.

All necessary details of the nominee, including name, cell number and e-mail address must be provided in the nomination. Unsuccessful Local Hero nominees from past years may be renominated for the 2020 awards.

Nominations close on July 31. The annual Local Heroes Awards gala dinner will see 12 Heroes celebrated for their inspirational work on October 29.


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