Time to vote for your local hero

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THE Mail is today giving readers the chance to pick Hartlepool’s very own local hero.

Our inaugural Pride of Hartlepool Awards will celebrate and honour the achievements of those people who have gone that extra mile to help others or the community in general.

They will also honour sporting, academic or personal achievements.

The beauty of the Mail’s Pride of Hartlepool Awards is its diversity.

All of the winners and shortlisted nominees will be at a prestigious awards evening at Hartlepool College of Further Education on Thursday, March 24.

The event will be compered by TFM Radio breakfast show presenter Wayne Allen and Hartlepool United club captain Ritchie Humphreys will be there as a guest of honour in what is his testimonial year.

The Pride of Hartlepool Awards aim to honour the achievements of people from all walks of life, young and old alike, whose dedication and determination has earned them the respect of others.

The word pride can mean many things to many people and as our nominations show it can be a group of people not just an individual that have earned their respect.

There are 12 categories in the awards with many of them decided by a panel of four judges who recently met to pick winners.

The Local Hero Award is one which is being put to a public vote.

Here is the shortlist that we are asking you to vote for by text.

HARTLEPOOL AND DISTRICT HOSPICE VOLUNTEERS (01)

THE dedicated team of fundraisers and volunteers at the hospice were nominated collectively and some even admit to being “a little embarrassed by it all”.

It was impossible to separate the six individuals who were nominated for their tireless fundraising, care and compassion and evotion to duty.

In nominating various members of the team, hospice bosses told how every one of them regularly gives up their time “free of charge and unconditionally”.

Many have more than a decade of service and have raised massive amounts of money for the hospice while others work in the laundry and finance department.

They vary in age but work regardless of rain or shine and are typified by Eileen Gardner (pictured) who has been a volunteer for more than 30 years.

RED DREAMS (02)

DAWN and husband Ian McManus unexpectedly lost their son Kyle to a brain haemorrhage in 2007.

The 16-year-old was a very creative and talented musician and songwriter.

The couple formed a charity in his memory – Red Dreams – and gave up their jobs to dedicate their time to it.

It provides a platform for creative youngsters to express themselves and they work tirelessly to raise money to keep it going.

A nominator told the Mail that despite Dawn suffering from a debilitating illness, and always in and out of hospital, her grit and determination never waivers.

The nomination read: “Dawn and Ian are doing a fantastic job mentoring young people to express their creative side and in turn build confidence and self esteem.”

SOPHIE KENNY (03)

THE trainee youth worker has blossomed since joining Belle Vue Community Sports and Youth Centre and is making a massive difference to the lives of scores of youngsters in that area.

Colleagues have told how Sophie was shy and withdrawn and with little confidence in her own ability.

However, the 21-year-old, who lives in the town centre area of Hartlepool, developed a great relationship with the youngsters at the club and has now become an excellent youth worker and “role model”.

She looks after the welfare of youngsters and openly challenges behaviour that is not acceptable.

The nomination closed with the passage: “She is willing to go that extra mile for young people which in return has had a massive impact on the Belle Vue area and a massive impact on the lives of the young people she works with.”

JAKE HODGE (04)

THE teenager had bleach thrown at him when he tried to save a woman from a crazed knifeman.

The 16-year-old, who lives in the Clavering area of Hartlepool, spranginto action when he saw a woman being threatened by a man in West View Road Hartlepool.

Jake, who was passing on his bike, tried to intervene but was sprayed with bleach and threatened with a knife.

He then cycled a short distance away and alerted police. He stayed on the line while the attack went on and stayed at the scene until police arrived.

The knifeman was later jailed for three years.

The modest student, who is currently studying at Hartlepool College of Further Education said at the time: “I wouldn’t say I was a hero – I just wasn’t prepared to leave the woman on her own.”

HOW TO VOTE: Text HMHERO (space) followed by the 2 digit number of your choice, plus your name and address and send to 63333

Text Charges: Texts cost 50p plus standard network rates.

Lines close at midnight on Friday, March 18, 2011. Entries received after the closing date will not be counted but may still be charged.

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