The annual search for individuals and groups who have heartened and inspired the nation is under way, as nominations open for the 2015 People of the Year Awards.
Anyone can be nominated — from a local hero to an international icon — and anyone can submit a nomination once they explain why they believe their nominee deserves the accolade.
Last year’s winners included equality activist, Rory O’Neill, otherwise known as Panti Bliss; garda whistleblowers, Maurice McCabe and John Wilson; and Cork woman Louise O’Keeffe, who fought a 15-year legal battle to force the State to take responsibility for paedophile teachers.
Recipients have been as diverse as comedian Tommy Tiernan and economist TK Whitaker, ploughing championship organiser Anna May McHugh and champion of Vietnamese street children, Christina Noble.
Some awards have been made posthumously: In 2013, 16-year-old anti-suicide campaigner Donal Walsh was honoured for his work encouraging young people to seek help in dark days, despite his own cancer battle.
Special categories include that of Sports Person of the Year — previously won by Rory McIlroy, Sonia O’Sullivan and the Munster rugby squad — and for Community Group of the Year, last year awarded to the Society of St Vincent de Paul.
The awards are in their 41st year and are organised by Rehab which sees many small inspiring acts itself in its work with people overcoming disabilities.
Rehab CEO Mo Flynn said: “We hear stories all the time of people’s bravery, their commitment to their community or their selfless dedication. The People of the Year Awards give us, as a country, the opportunity to honour these people, to recognise and value their contribution, and to show them that what they did changed lives.”
All nominations will be assessed by a panel made up of representatives of the worlds of business, media and community work. Awards will be presented at a ceremony, broadcast live by RTÉ, on December 5.
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