IN JUST three weeks’ time, the East Lothian Courier will celebrate the people who make such a positive difference to the lives of others and our communities.

Our Community Champion Awards night takes place at Haddington Corn Exchange on Thursday, May 30, when we will reveal the winners in categories covering everything from sport to business, and teaching to charities.

East Lothian Courier: East Lothian Courier Community Champion Awards logo

Last month, our judging panel had the difficult task of deciding the finalists for our awards, and the task of choosing the winners was no easier.

Now we can’t wait to recognise the people who make our communities a better place – every one of our finalists certainly does that.

Courier editor Robbie Scott said: “There are so many people in our towns and villages who, week after week, year after year, step up to help those less fortunate than themselves, giving their time and efforts to make other people’s lives better.

“We’d like to thank everyone who took the time to submit a nomination, as well as everyone who was nominated for everything they do for their communities, and we’re excited to highlight the great efforts of all our finalists. I’d also like to give a special mention to our awards sponsors, without whom none of this would be possible.”

The Community Champion Awards are generously sponsored by East Coast Buses; PureMalt; SSE Renewables; and Sustainable Facilities Management.

East Lothian Courier: The East Lothian Courier Community Champion Awards are sponsored by East Coast Buses, PureMalt, SSE Renewables Berwick Bank Wind Farm, and Sustainable Facilities Management

Tickets for the awards evening, hosted by TV and radio personality Bryan Burnett, can be purchased online via:

Here’s a look at all the finalists for the Champion Teacher of the Year award:

Lynsey Kelly

East Lothian Courier: Lynsey Kelly

THIS year, Ross High School set out to ensure that all young people had a say on how the school operated.

Mrs Kelly, realising the importance of this, set out to find a way to gather the voices of more than 1,200 young people by launching Have Your Say Days.

The drama teacher started by ensuring that each registration class had two class representatives. These reps then hosted Have Your Say Days, asking the pupils their views on numerous items, taken from the national document How Good is OUR School. These comments were then collated by her incredible team of pupils and shared with the headteacher and other leaders of the school.

Pupils in her drama classes speak positively about her and the pass rates in her classes are exceptional.

Hannah McBride

East Lothian Courier: Hannah McBride

KNOX Academy’s Ms McBride always goes above and beyond for pupils at her school.

As part of her equity remit, she has set up a breakfast club, secured Christmas presents for underprivileged pupils, and set up an essentials hub for pupils to get help with basic needs, including school uniforms, snacks if they are hungry, hygiene products, and she has even managed to secure donations of formal wear for events like proms.

She works closely with the PTA and outside agencies for the benefit of pupils.

She was also instrumental in setting up a work positive group in the school which focuses on staff health and wellbeing.

Her friendly and approachable manner means that people feel able to approach her for help whenever needed.

Emma Shepherd

East Lothian Courier: Emma Shepherd, 52, has been nominated for the Champion Teacher of the Year award

HAILED by parents for her ability to empower children, Mrs Shepherd of Dirleton Primary School is a true teaching hero.

Due to Mrs Shepherd, Dirleton Primary now works closely with Hamilton Waste and Recycling and the children to ensure that all waste is correctly recycled.

Recycling bins are placed in every classroom and are monitored by pupils daily.

Due to the efforts of Mrs Shepherd, Dirleton Primary now has a lunchtime scratch club run by one of the pupils. The school did not previously have the facility.

Mrs Shepherd is now responsible for this ongoing club within the school.

The much-loved teacher has also been praised for her work out of hours to support pupils, including attending one pupil’s fashion show in Edinburgh on a Sunday.