A Local Hero for every month of the year

This year's Daily Dispatch and Johnson & Johnson Local Heroes are: Olwethu Ntliziyombi, Lusanda Magwape, Sella Doyle, Xhanti Msauli, Amos Mzimeli, Fezeka Malotana, Unakho Ntshintshi, Heidi Vermaak, Tessa van Heerden, John Goodrich, Mncedi Ngamlana, Zintle Ngamlana and Amahle Qomfo.
GRACIOUS GROUP: This year's Daily Dispatch and Johnson & Johnson Local Heroes are: Olwethu Ntliziyombi, Lusanda Magwape, Sella Doyle, Xhanti Msauli, Amos Mzimeli, Fezeka Malotana, Unakho Ntshintshi, Heidi Vermaak, Tessa van Heerden, John Goodrich, Mncedi Ngamlana, Zintle Ngamlana and Amahle Qomfo.
Image: MARK ANDREWS

The East London ICC was filled to the chandeliers with inspirational stories on Thursday night for the fifth edition of the Daily Dispatch and Johnson & Johnson Local  Hero  Awards.

The night saw more than 350 people cheering the 2019 Local  Hero  finalists at a glamorous masked ball.

From 14-year-old Unakho Ntshintshi, who supports children with congenital heart defects, to Tessa van Heerden, 64, who has dedicated more than a decade to treating and caring for animals in townships, the 2019 finalists were a truly inspirational bunch.

Amos Mzimeli, Heidi Vermaak, Fezeka Malotana, John Goodrich, Amahle Qomfo, Olwethu Ntliziyombi, Mncedi and Nontando Mgamlana, Lusanda Magwape, Xhanti Msuali and Sella Doyle were also among the finalists.

Chosen from a pool of 48 community stalwarts, each of the 12 is considered a winner and this year, each received a R20,000 cash prize towards their projects.

“We wanted to make this year’s awards really special for our fift h anniversary.

@ A bigger prize for each local  hero  is our way of celebrating,” said Daily Dispatch marketing manager Jennilee Peremore-Oliver.

The prizes were sponsored by the Daily Dispatch, Johnson & Johnson, PNA and Vincent Park. KFC also sponsored a R50,000 cash prize for the Heroes’  Hero  Award, which was also revealed at the event.

Hemingways Hotel also came on board, offering up a luxurious night’s stay for each of the Local Heroes. Hemingways representative Lauren Manthe said the hotel was happy to support the event as it gave the people making a real difference in the community an opportunity to be celebrated.

“The real heroes are usually in the background and do not get the recognition they deserve so we wanted to support this event,” said Manthe.

The event was hosted by MC Bongani Bingwa, who presented the first Local Heroes dinner in 2015.

2018 Local  Hero  finalist and Cyfadance founder Ben Rexana this year took to the stage with a team of young dancers to entertain guests throughout the evening.

“To me, Local Heroes is one of the biggest occasions of the year. It was so exciting to be invited back to perform and for my kids to have this opportunity.

@They had never been to the ICC before and being invited to perform for such a big and important event gave the kids so much motivation and encouragement,” said Rexana.

MadeleineC@dispatch.co.za

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