Time to nominate your local heroes

Search for the province’s most selfless changemakers begins this weekend

The 2022 Local Heroes awards gala event was a night of rose-gold glamour in honour of 12 winners whose work stood out.
THERE FOR OTHERS: The 2022 Local Heroes awards gala event was a night of rose-gold glamour in honour of 12 winners whose work stood out.

It is nearly time to honour some of the Eastern Cape’s most selfless and impactful changemakers as nominations for the Daily Dispatch Johnson’s Baby Local Heroes awards open on April 1. 

Daily Dispatch readers are invited to nominate individuals from their communities, who go above and beyond to positively impact the lives of the less fortunate through outreach activities, for a chance to be crowned this year’s local heroes. 

In the ninth annual Local Heroes awards, the Daily Dispatch, alongside its headline sponsor Johnson’s Baby, will give 12 local heroes an opportunity to highlight the amazing work they do during a celebratory ceremony on October 26. 

Daily Dispatch general manager Ryan Megaw said: “We encourage nominations from the public for this year’s Local Heroes initiative. Local Heroes are ordinary people who make an extraordinary difference in our communities.

“Normally they are selfless individuals who manage to achieve an amazing amount of good with very few resources.

“Daily Dispatch values this initiative as it highlights good news, and elevates the work of our Local Heroes, by giving them recognition and telling their stories to the broader community. Often this opens doors for our heroes in terms of support.

“We encourage local businesses to support the work of our Local Heroes directly or to partner in the initiative with us by sponsoring an award for one of the 12 finalists, or by buying a table for the inspiring awards evening at the end of the year.

“Each year we are overwhelmed by the stories we hear, normally showcase at least 40 heroes before whittling this down to a final 12 who are all honoured equally at the awards ceremony, which has become a huge highlight on the local calendar,” he said.

This year’s sponsors include Johnsons’ Baby by Johnson & Johnson, Link FM, Vodacom4U and Gussie’s Gifting and Stationery. 

Daily Dispatch readers are invited to nominate changemakers for this year’s Local Heroes awards
SEE THE GOOD: Daily Dispatch readers are invited to nominate changemakers for this year’s Local Heroes awards
Image: FILE

Last year’s awards event saw finalists, sponsors and other esteemed guests dress to the nines and dine at the Premier Hotel ICC where the 2022 winners were announced during a night of glitz and glamour. 

Twelve winners each walked away with R20,000 in cash and a professionally shot video of their projects. 

This was the first in-person awards ceremony since 2019 due to lockdown regulations in 2020 and 2021. 

Among last year’s winners was Trevor Willard, a 62-year-old retiree who helps men who are abused, battered and suffering from mental health challenges. 

Willard, through his Open Hands NPO, runs a safe house in Berea which homes about 25 men at a time, providing safe accommodation, meals, access to counselling and other support services until they are back on their feet.

He said the award had given Open Hands much needed publicity and a financial boost to help them expand their offering.

“Since the local heroes awards, a lot of doors have opened for us and a lot of people who were not aware of the Open Hands support centre got to know about us from the publicity we received,” Willard said.

“I wish there were more initiatives like Local Heroes awards that assist NPOs, because NPOs struggle a lot out there.”

He said he used the prize money to buy more beds to more than double the number of men they accommodated last year at the safe house. 

“Previously, we could only help 10 men at a time but now we’ve gone up to 25 at a time.

“We’ve opened up a little skills development programme where we help them in the different fields of work they are interested in,” he said.

He said the money also helped to upskill staff at the safe house. 

Another 2022 winner, Ziyanda Xaso, 44, runs Jika Uluntu Community Centre, an East London NPO focused on childhood development with the aim of creating a safe space for learning for children in ward 50. 

Founded in 2017, Jika Uluntu offers a daily feeding scheme for more than 700 children, a preschool that also offers two hot meals a day, and an after-school programme.

“There has been a huge difference to our centre since we won the award. A lot more people know about us now and, as a result of that, our donations have increased,” Xaso said.

“We were able to put that money to good use; we now have a jungle gym for the creche which was something we needed desperately.”

She encouraged people to nominate the changemakers they know of for this year’s awards.

“It’s important for people to know what NPOs are doing, because we need more ordinary South Africans to start supporting local organisations.

“That’s the only way we’ll be able to make headway,” she said.

Nominations for 2023 may be submitted from April 1 until August 31 by emailing a 500-word motivation to localheroes@dispatch.co.za.

Nominations must include all the necessary details including the nominee’s name, cell number and email address. Unsuccessful nominees from previous years may be renominated for the 2023 awards.



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