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Dumfries & Galloway Life People of the Year Awards 2012 - what to expect...

Dumfries & Galloway Life columnist Gilly Fraser was the excellent compere for the 2011 People of the Year Awards and is delighted to return as host for the 2012 awards at Easterbrook Hall in Dumfries in November.

Here she shares her thoughts on last year’s emotional ceremony:

"A celebration of all the best the south west of Scotland has to offer

"It’s an odd feeling to be choked with pride for someone you don’t even know. It happened to me several times at last year’s Dumfries & Galloway Life People of the Year Awards, as stories unfolded of the region’s finest. It’s a cliché but it truly was a celebration of all the best the south west of Scotland has to offer - and boy does it have a lot to offer! Geographically speaking, it’s really quite small, but in content it’s massive, whether you’re talking about people, places, or businesses.

"Being choked with pride was a tad inconvenient for me, however, as I was the ceremony’s host. It was a fantastic job and I loved every single second of it, but it was sometimes quite tricky to talk about some of those amazing achievements without getting croaky about the whole thing!

"However, any difficulties I may have had totally pale into insignificance when compared with the judges, and I wholeheartedly doff my cap to them, for doing a tough job very well indeed. Every single category from Volunteer of the Year to Sports Person of the Year to Food Champion contained strong contenders, all worthy of accolade. I can just imagine the discussions that must have gone on round the judges’ table as they made their selections; some of those debates must have been pretty intense.

"The day reached its glittering finale with two extra-special awards, and they may have been the easiest to choose, because the winners were simply phenomenal.

"The Dumfries & Galloway Life Special Award went to Ellis Hayes, a 13-year-old dancer from Newton Stewart, whose light and graceful footwork would make a will-of-the-wisp look clumsy, and who has turned dedication into an art form. She’s won national and international awards by the bushel and is a fantastic ambassador for Dumfries & Galloway.

The final award of the day had us all misty-eyed. One judge said the winner had “true Churchillian spirit” - very appropriate for someone whose motto in life is “fight and keep on fighting”.

"Jennefer Tobin has dedicated much of her life to providing sanctuary and loving care for wounded military personnel and in doing so has touched and helped more souls than we’ll ever know. It was an absolute privilege to read out her name as the overall winner of Dumfries & Galloway Life’s People of the Year Awards. Great choice guys!

"The winners of the 2011 awards share one thing in common: they’ll be a really hard act to follow! I for one am really looking forward to this year’s event and to finding out what more this wonderful region can possibly have to offer. I know it has many riches still to reveal - so don’t be shy - bring them on!"