The Ulster Star has launched its inaugural People of the Year Awards.
They are aimed at recognising the contribution, commitment and achievements of a wide range of people in the Lisburn and Castlereagh area.
They will pay homage to the people and organisations who have gone the extra mile and who are an asset in everything they do.
The launch was held last Friday at Lagan Valley Island, where MP Jeffrey Donaldson, and Associate sponsors Choice Housing were among the guests.
Star editor Damian Wilson welcomed everyone to the launch and thanked Choice Housing and also the category sponsors The Atlas Centre and the RNIB.
He spoke of the local communities which still thrive in Lisburn and said the awards were aimed at recognising the people who worked tirelessly for these communities.
“These awards are all about the people of Lisburn,” said Mr. Wilson. “I spent large parts of my childhood on the Low Road and in those days the Low Road was a community within itself.
“Everyone knew everyone else and always tried to help their neighbours.
“Lisburn has changed a lot since then but it is still full of communities like this, from the likes of Ballymacash to the Old Warren.
“Every week in the Star we have more community news than any other local paper.
“And what I mean by community news is stories of people achieving things, winning awards, volunteering, fundraising and helping others in their area.
“Those are the people these awards will give some recognition and a little reward to.
“So I would ask you all to spread the word of the Person of the Year Awards as much as you can and make sure these people are nominated.”
Mr Donaldson said he was delighted to give the awards his backing and said he hoped they would be a boost for the city of Lisburn.
The local MP said a lot of people were criticising the city as they weren’t happy with various things at the moment.
But he stressed that Lisburn still had a lot to offer and the awards would highlight all the positive things about the city.
Former Mayor and Freeman of the city Ivan Davis also gave the awards his backing.
He highlighted the city’s rich history which, he said, was a history to be proud of.
“Lisburn has the richest history of any town in Northern Ireland,” he said, highlighted the fact it had recently been voted the number one place to live in Northern Ireland.
Both Mr. Donaldson and Mr Davis highlighted individual categories such as the outstanding bravery award, the carer of the year award and the Sports Team of the Year Award.
Mr Davis said he thought the Inspirational young Talent Award summed up what Lisburn was all about - showing as it did the depth of talent there was in the city’s young people.
“I look forward to seeing the talent and the stories these awards will bring out and the great people who will win them