LOCAL heroes will be recognised next month at the 2017 Tees Valley BME Awards.

Nominations are now being sought for local heroes from across the area’s Black and Minority Ethnic communities.

Organisers want to hear about the individuals, organisations and businesses that have made a positive contribution to equality of opportunity, to advance race relations and to promote community harmony.

The Tees Valley is home to more than 43,000 BME community members and their families who make an invaluable contribution to the region’s economy and its vibrant social mix.

The Tees Valley BME Awards are a vital platform for service providers and community members alike to celebrate achievements across the board, from personal achievements to collective success for organisations.

This year’s celebration will be held on Friday, February 17 at the Jury’s Inn Hotel in Middlesbrough.

And it’s up to local people to put forward the names of individuals and groups who have made the biggest contribution over the last year.

The evening will be chaired by former Chief Crown Prosecutor Nazir Afzal and will feature a delightful Indian dinner as well as key speeches by leading local figures, with special guests will be confirmed in the coming weeks.

The highlight will be the presentation of the awards themselves, with a wide range of categories covering Youth, Community, Business, Public Sector and Education and a new Private Sector category.

Presentations will also be made to a Diversity Champion and Woman of the Year, while a Lifetime Achievement Award will recognise sustained commitment to and support for BME communities.

Zoe Lewis, Principal and Chief Executive of sponsors Middlesbrough College, said: “For me personally this is one of the highlights of the year.

“The BME awards celebrate equality and diversity and that is something Middlesbrough College is firmly committed to.

“This event gives us an opportunity to recognise some of the amazing people who devote time and energy to help make our communities better places for everyone.”

BME Network Partnership Manager Idrees Rashid said: “The awards are now firmly established as one of the highlights of the year and continue to go from strength to strength.

“It’s an annual opportunity to celebrate the remarkable contributions made by many individuals and organisations across a range of sectors.

“Year in, year out they contribute their skills, talent and commitment to making this area thrive and prosper, while inspiring and promoting community cohesion.

“This important event is a celebration of the individual and collective achievements of the diverse communities that make up the vibrant Tees Valley.

“It’s an opportunity to pay tribute to the tireless work of an array of talented and committed individuals whose efforts make a real difference – as ever we’re keen to hear from local people who they would like to see pick up the awards.”

Nominations for this year’s Achievement Awards close on Monday, February 6.

For more information or to make a nomination, visit www.bmeawards.co.uk or email info@bmeawards.co.uk