Lucy Meacock has praised the community spirit and heart of Merseyside as she launches the annual Echo Awards for 2020.

ITV Granada Reports anchor Lucy will be hosting this year's ceremony and commended the selflessness and courage that the people of Merseyside have shown in a tough year.

The awards, held in partnership with SP Energy Networks, recognise the outstanding work done by individuals and organisations on Merseyside.

Speaking to the ECHO, Lucy said: "These awards are a fantastic opportunity for us to give a massive pat on the back to those wonderful people of Merseyside who most deserve recognition.

"You can always guarantee by the end of the awards you will meet people who make you laugh and hear stories about people who will move you to tears."

She added: "I believe very strongly it is not good to simply look out for ourselves in life. We have a duty to put something back in.

"One thing I hope we can all learn from 2020 is how important it is to look out for each other, to care about our neighbours, to look out for people who live alone and look after anyone who needs our help."

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Reporting on what's been happening across our region hasn't been easy this year, with the pandemic making it simultaneously harder and also more important than ever before to keep people informed.

Looking back on a challenging year for our region, Lucy said: "These awards are more important than ever this year because we need to encourage that sense of community spirit and reward and recognise those people who are already doing that.

"Anyone who is nominated for one of these awards will be inspiring a whole new generation. These awards are part of the traditional fabric of Merseyside – a region with an extraordinarily big heart.

"Thank you to the ECHO and our sponsors for continuing this tradition at a very challenging time for us all. They help to remind us how important it is to pull together and to join forces to make our part of the world a better place."

This year's awards ceremony will take place on a live streamed virtual ceremony for the first time.

It means finalists will still be able to get involved in the big night, all from the comfort and safety of their own homes.

With virtual meetings, parties and even weddings becoming part of the "new normal", Lucy said she is looking forward to hosting the first ever live streamed ceremony.

She said: "I wish we could all be in the same room, meet each other in person and give each other big hugs but a virtual event is the closest we can get at the moment.

"We can still get dressed up for the night – and we can still celebrate with the important people in our lives, family members and carers or people in our bubbles at work.

"And I look forward to meeting all of you online! It will be great to announce our winners and interview them on the night."

Lucy added: "This year many of us have lost people very close to us, we have seen so much heartbreak around us. In many ways the world has changed beyond all recognition – but the people of Merseyside have a great capacity for putting a big arm around each other – this year we will have to do that virtually instead!"

Launched on Monday, September 14, the awards offer the opportunity to champion incredible fundraising efforts and reward outstanding achievements in our region.

From honouring those who have shown incredible courage and bravery to celebrating sports personalities and teams who make our region proud, the awards are an opportunity to highlight the very best that Merseyside has to offer.

So if you know someone who deserves to have their hard work recognised, be sure to nominate them so they can be in with a chance of winning.

What are the categories for the ECHO Awards 2020?

Young Personality

*Sponsored by Merseyrail

Do you know a special young person who deserves to be recognised? If you have a friend or family member who has shown bravery and courage, carried out a heroic act, achieved success against all odds or dedicated themselves to a good cause, nominate them for this award.

Courage Award

The courage award will be made to anyone who has shown outstanding bravery and courage, which may range from a single heroic act through to battling against disability, illness or adversity. If you know someone who fits the bill, nominate them for this award.

Community Group Award

*Sponsored by SP Energy Networks

For this award we are looking for a group effort. People who come together for the greater good of the community. It could be a sports project, a support group or your local after school club. For this award we are looking for energetic, focused groups of people who come together in aid of the community.

Sports Team Award

You don’t have to be top of the league or a gold medal winner to enter this award. The winner will be a team with a passion and drive for sport. You could nominate the team you play for, coach or love to watch. Get in touch and tell us about the sporting stars of Merseyside.

Sports Personality

This award is for an individual who has shown dedication, commitment and enthusiasm for sport. They could be anyone from your swimming coach to a runner who is your inspiration. For this award we are looking for the sporting pride of Merseyside who give 100% energy at whatever level they compete.

Charity Organisation Award

Have you experienced the care and support of a local charity? Are you involved in a charity organisation who supports people from Merseyside in their hour of need? For this award we are looking to recognise charity organisations who make a real difference to the lives of people from our region.

Any entries by or on behalf of a charity should have a registered charity number.

Fundraising Award

For this award judges will be looking for groups or individuals who have commitment to long term fundraising. They must have a tireless drive and energy, always creating new ways to raise funds for charities or community groups.

Arts & Performance Award

This is an award for all the creative people of Merseyside. We are looking for talented groups or individuals who can dance, sing, act and who deserve to be recognised for their commitment to the arts. You could be part of a dance group, a local amateur dramatic organisation or have a instalment in a gallery.

Community Event of the Year

This is your chance to shout about your favourite event in Merseyside. This may be a regular event that you never miss or a one off event that was enjoyed by the whole community. If you organise or are involved with an event that brings the community together, gain extra recognition through this award.

Community Personality

Do you know a special person who deserves to be recognised? If you have a friend or family member who has shown bravery and courage, carried out a heroic act, achieved success against all odds or dedicated themselves to a good cause, nominate them for this award.

Echo Outstanding Achievement Award

The winner of Echo Outstanding Achievement Award will be selected by our panel of judges and will be a person who has shown an outstanding contribution to Merseyside by significantly enhancing the region's reputation. If you would like to make a suggestion to the panel, please tell us about your heroes of Merseyside.

How to enter

To enter the awards simply visit the event website by clicking or tapping here and complete the online entry form. If you require any further information please contact event manager Katie Isaacson on 0151 472 2571 or email k[email protected]

Calling on people to enter the awards and nominate others, Lucy said: "We need your help with these awards – because they are all about you and it’s our way of making sure Merseyside says thank you to the people who make our world a better place!

"It is a huge honour to be hosting this year as this event is always an absolute highlight of the year.

"It never fails to amaze me how many kind-hearted, public-spirited people there are in our region, people who deserve recognition for their selfless courage in the face of the toughest of challenges."

When will the awards ceremony take place?

This year's awards ceremony will be a specially designed live streamed virtual awards ceremony that finalists will be invited to take part in from the comfort and safety of their own homes.

The awards will be free to view on the events website on Friday, November 27. More details will be announced shortly.