YEP Says, December 24: Leeds heroes who embody the true spirit of Christmas

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TWELVE heroes for 12 days of Christmas. The recipients of the YEP’s festive honours could not be more deserving of such recognition.

We asked you, our readers, to reflect on the year and nominate those who made a difference during 2014. And you didn’t disappoint with your choices.

They range from Kevin Sinfield, who lifted the Challenge Cup and was made an MBE to cap what has been an astonishing 12 years leading Leeds Rhinos, to Lee Deighton, the special constable who went above and beyond the call of duty, putting his life on the line to save two people from drowning in the River Aire.

From Gemma McKeating, who not only rebuilt her life after suffering two strokes before the age of 30 but created an acclaimed fashion label, to Linda Jackson and Lucy Pitkin, the tireless volunteers who between them run 15 city foodbanks, distributing food parcels to those in direst need.

All of our Christmas Heroes share one important quality in common: they have all led by example or, in the case of the family of murdered teacher Ann Maguire, shown enormous humility and fortitude following a simply indescribable personal tragedy that shocked the nation.

These shining lights, whose number also includes the Tour Makers whose enthusiasm was integral to the success of the Grand Départ and Leeds nurse Lizzie Marmont who is now risking her life to help Ebola victims in Africa, are indicative of the spirit of generosity that characterises Christmas.

Generosity is a positive attribute that shouldn’t just be measured by the amount we spend in the last-minute shopping frenzy before Christmas Day.

It’s something that goes to the heart of this city’s DNA and is exemplified by the sacrifices being made by all those who will be helping the less fortunate over the festive period.

There are people right across Leeds who go the extra mile to do something for others or their community – and they do it every day of the year, not just at Christmas.

Such individuals are all unsung heroes and deserving of two small words this Christmas which are not spoken often enough: Thank you.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank all our readers for your support in 2014 and wish you a very merry Christmas.