Sometimes it is when the worst things imaginable happen that we see the very best in people. In Manchester, Westminster , and London Bridge , murderers struck at the very heart of British life. Every time, people from all walks of life showed that unique, intangible spirit and inspirational humanity, which gives us hope in the bleakest of times.
There was the scarcely believable courage of unarmed policemen tackling killers armed with knives, nurses, paramedics and doctors running towards danger to save lives, and waiters, chefs and drinkers thinking nothing of their own safety to help others.
In the aftermath of these horrific events, there was the quiet compassion of cabbies giving free rides home, people opening their homes to strangers, and coming together to raise money to help the victims. We saw the same spirit in the heartbreaking Grenfell Tower fire just last week – the dedication and courage of the firefighters, and the generosity of a community coming together to help those left with nothing after losing their homes.
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Courage, compassion, heroism and love – these are the qualities we celebrate at Pride of Britain.
So, as we start our search for the 2017 winners, I know we will receive nominations for heroes from these tragedies, and we especially want to hear of people who have not been in the public eye.
Seeing those values in moments of tragedy reminds us of the quiet heroism of people who are transforming lives all over the country, and we want to hear about them too.
In the 18 years since I hosted the first Pride of Britain Awards, I have learned that winners share two things – an incredible, selfless desire to help others, and unbelievable modesty about what they have done. That is why we need you to tell us about your unsung heroes, and nominate them.
It could be someone who is quietly transforming their community, or someone who has put themselves in danger to save someone else, or an inspirational campaigner.
They could be six or 106 – heroism knows no age barrier. And they could have changed one life or changed the world, like World Wide Web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee, a winner in 2014.
It could be someone who has inspired the nation, like Stephen Sutton, the teenage cancer patient who used his last days to raise millions and who we also celebrated in 2014. Or perhaps you know someone who has transformed their community, like great-gran Alice Burke, who took a stand against the drug dealers and prostitutes who turned her East London estate into a no-go zone.
Children have stolen the show and won the hearts of ITV viewers in all the Pride of Britain events I have hosted since 1999. Some of them made their mark on the world and left it far too soon.
In 2012, lovely Alice Pyne, 15, gathered all her strength to make the ceremony to urge people to join the organ transplant list. About two months later we lost her. Even at her most fragile, her spirit and drive were so strong. Liam Fairhurst won the Child of Courage award in 2008 because, after cancer claimed his friend Jack Wilkinson , he raised £300,000 for children’s cancer charity CLIC Sargent.
Liam’s treatment for leg and lung cancer meant he could barely walk and he had lost 50% of his thigh muscles, yet he swam a mile to help the charity. Before he died in 2009, aged 14, he told his mum he worried no one would remember him. But how could we ever forget him?
Older prize-winners also stand out.
Henry Allingham was 110 when he won a Lifetime Achievement Award. He was one of the last surviving soldiers who had fought in the First World War and as he came on stage, his carer said not to give him the microphone.
Somehow, Henry got hold of it and he talked for about 15 minutes.
I worried the show might over-run. Then I noticed comics David Walliams and Matt Lucas crying with laughter and realised Henry had been a highlight.
Other winners stand out because of their spirit. In 2000, Jean Forrest became our first foster carer to win after fostering 700 kids. She had a special aura of love.
Like most of the audience, I have to concentrate hard not to cry, but sometimes the tears fall, as they do when the judges meet to choose our winners.
If you know someone who wows with their bravery or astounds with their selflessness, please let us know.
However old or young they are, whichever corner of Britain they live in, we want to thank those exceptional people for making the world a better place.
When I stand on that Pride of Britain stage for the 19th time this October, and look out at the audience in Grosvenor House Hotel on Park Lane, London, I will see some of our most famous actors, singers, TV presenters, footballers, politicians and royalty. But the real stars of Pride of Britain are the winners.
So fill out the form in today’s Daily Mirror, nominate here on the website or pick up a form at your local TSB branch to tell us who it should be.
We can’t do it without you.