PUBLIC VOTE - Help the Harrogate Advertiser Make A Difference

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A Harrogate Advertiser campaign calling on people to sign up to the Organ Donor Register has made the shortlist for a national press award.

The campaign has been selected to appear in the Local Newspaper Week #MakingADifference showcase, highlighting the positive power of the local press.

I have often been struck by the ability of local newspapers to make a real difference through campaigning.

Deborah Meaden - Dragons’ Den

This is after 1,582 people signed up to the organ donor register in the Harrogate district in the nine months of the campaign, featuring the stories of local families from across the area.

Hundreds of newspapers across the country participate every year, and the Harrogate Advertiser is the only weekly newspaper in the north of England to make the shortlist.

Now, as daily, regional and local titles go head to head this week, voting opens up to support the newspaper campaign of your choice.

And we need your help to boost our chances of success - and take this campaign to the next level.

“Campaigns like this change lives, ” said Carol Hare, grandmother of transplant survivor three-year-old Mia Mason whose story fronted the campaign.

“Not just the person’s life - but for their whole family as well.

“Seeing 1,500 people sign up is a big number. But even if only one person joined the register as a result, it’s worth it.

“So many people have been touched by Mia’s story, we have people stopping us in the street. It changes lives - it changes everything.”

Click here to vote for the Harrogate Advertiser organ donor campaign.

Mia, who is now thriving after undergoing life-saving transplant surgery in November, is one of a dozen people whose stories featured in the campaign.

This is after it emerged that nine people had died in the district while waiting for a transplant in the last five years, and the Harrogate Advertiser series pledged to do all it could to highlight the plight of those still waiting.

Also among those who came forward was Knaresborough railwayman Dennis Roberts, who lives in Ripon, whose wife Jacqui saved his life with a kidney transplant.

John and Liz Gardiner, from Harrogate, spoke out after sons Stuart and Alan were both diagnosed with a deadly heart condition, while Ripon woman Deborah Jones shared her story as she received the call to say a transplant was ready.

Brave couple Libbie and Steve Davies spoke of their loss of baby Zachary at just 29 days old, as he waited for a heart transplant.

And family man Mark Smith, from Harrogate, spoke about how his life was completely transformed by the gift’ of a transplant, with his miracle daughter’ Emily born soon after.

Mr Smith, backing the Harrogate Advertiser in this week’s vote, is calling on every resident to vote.

“You don’t really know about the importance of organ transplant until it happens to you - or someone you love,” he said.

“It’s campaigns like this that can make a real difference.”

- Voting is now live at www.localnewspaperweek.co.uk. The winning campaign will be announced at the Society of Editors Regional Press Awards this Friday, May 15.

Celebrities backing the #MakingADifference campaign

Alex Jones - One Show presenter

“Local newspapers have been at the heart of my broadcast training over the years and in my opinion provide a unique and vital public service.

“They listen to the concerns, aspirations and hopes of their readers and campaign for real change on their behalf.

It doesn’t matter what the issue is - local newspapers keep fighting on behalf of their readers.

“This work is so important to keeping our communities healthy and vibrant.”

Michael Sheen - actor

“I believe passionately in the ability of local newspapers to make a positive difference to the communities they serve.

“I am a strong believer in speaking out on issues that really matter to people.

“Local papers can speak truth to power and we should not underestimate the importance of this in underpinning the freedoms we enjoy, and sometimes take for granted.

“Local papers often campaign on issues that powerful figures and institutions would prefer to remain hidden and we should never forget that this vital and important work underpins the vibrant democracy we live in.”

Deborah Meaden - Dragons’ Den

“A strong local newspaper has many important functions but a key role is to act as a champion for the area it represents.

“I have often been struck by the ability of local newspapers to make a real difference through campaigning.

“Local papers can get things done, improving life for everyone in the community by bringing wealth and jobs into the area.”