BY KYM MARSH
Host, Pride of Manchester and Pride of Birmingham
Times are tough, aren’t they?
No matter how positive you are, there’s no denying this latest lockdown, with schools closed and long winter nights, is a struggle.
But for me, there are two amazing beacons that point to a much brighter future.
First of all, the vaccine rollout has been wonderful to see, giving older folk a glimpse of the time when they can hug their grandchildren again, and real hope for the rest of us that one day, hopefully soon, all this will be behind us.
I was so thrilled when my dad called to say he had been vaccinated, and mum is set to get the jab soon too.
And the other thing that should bring joy to all our hearts, is the incredible way people everywhere have come together to help others over the past year.
Whether it’s organised volunteer groups or simply neighbours offering to pick up some shopping for each other, so many people have put their own worries aside to look out for the rest of us.
And that selfless spirit is what we celebrate at the MEN Pride of Manchester and Birmingham Live Pride of Birmingham Awards, in partnership with TSB.
If you're in Manchester or Birmingham, we need you to tell us about your city’s unsung heroes, including those who have come to the fore during the pandemic.
Perhaps you would like to nominate the amazing volunteers who are the lifeblood of the vaccination effort.
And let’s not forget the dedicated key workers, from supermarket staff to refuse collectors, teachers, transport workers and of course, NHS heroes, who have carried on working throughout lockdown.
If you know anyone who deserves recognition, then tell us about them. And that includes people who are making a difference in any way, not just helping us through the pandemic.
Perhaps you know someone who is quietly transforming their community to improve the lives of those around them, or someone who has put themselves in danger to save someone else, or an inspirational campaigner.
We are looking for amazing fundraisers, children and young people who have overcome adversity to help others, and people who have displayed heart-stopping courage in a split second, perhaps risking their own safety to save a stranger.
And of course, we honour the amazing men and women of our emergency services who go beyond the call of duty to keep us all safe.
Our team looks at every nomination we receive, before compiling a shortlist for the Pride of Birmingham and Pride of Manchester judging panels who choose the winners.
All our winners also go forward to the judging process for the Daily Mirror’s Pride of Britain Awards, in partnership with TSB.
Since it began in 1999, royalty, prime ministers, and hundreds of leading figures from showbusiness, sport, politics and the arts have all taken part.
The show is broadcast every year in a primetime slot on ITV, and it has served up dozens of truly unforgettable moments.
Right now, across Birmingham and Manchester, there are similarly incredible people quietly going about their business of helping others and transforming people’s lives.
They aren’t going to shout about what they do, so you’ll have to do it for them.
If you know someone who deserves one of these awards, tell us about them, and nominate today.
However old or young they are, wherever they live, we would love to thank those exceptional people for making their city a better place.