The awards gala ceremony, which is being held in Titanic Belfast on June 5 and hosted by TV presenters Pamela Ballantine and Marc Mallett, will be shown on UTV in a one hour special.
There is a total of 10 categories, including awards for Unsung Hero, Charity Champion, 999 Hero, Spirit of Health, Spirit of Education, Spirit of Youth and Spirit of Sport.
The unique Northern Ireland-wide search will give recognition to those whose good deeds have previously gone mostly unnoticed.
Whether for demonstrating a spirit of compassion, neighbourliness, charity, courage or devotion, or going beyond the call of duty in the fields of education, the emergency services, the caring sector, health or sport, all nominations are welcome.
Like previous years the audience will be filled with many local celebrities supporting the event and eager to hear the incredible stories of the finalists.
These awards restore your faith in human nature and that’s wonderful.
Well known personalities who have supported the awards in recent years include TV presenter Eamonn Holmes, X Factor judge Louis Walsh, Derry Girls stars Ian McElhinney and Jamie-Lee O’Donnell, boxing champs Carl Frampton and Ryan Burnett, The Fall actresses Bronagh Waugh and Niamh McGrady, Game of Thrones star Kristian Nairn as well as Northern Ireland football manager Michael O’Neill and some of his star players. Soap actors from Emmerdale and Coronation Street also attend annually.
Other sporting faces who have attended include Ulster and Ireland rugby stars Rory Best and Craig Gilroy, racing legend AP McCoy and Olympic boxer Paddy Barnes.
Louis Walsh, who sat on the judging panel for the awards, said afterwards: “It’s a brilliant night because it’s about normal people with real stories, about them overcoming so many difficulties but who are happy with their lives.”
Eamonn Holmes, who has also been a judge, has urged people to nominate, saying: "What blew me away was how many of these people don’t care about money or status, it’s about other people.
“Let us know about anyone who should be recognised, blow the trumpet for them. If they have done something that deserves that sort of acknowledgement, then show us and raise our expectation of what the Spirit of Northern Ireland really is.”
Sunday Life editor Martin Breen said that the 10th anniversary bash will also honour many of the previous Spirit of Northern Ireland Award winners over the years for their great deeds.
He added: “We want people to nominate those who have made a difference to their lives or who have gone over and beyond to help their local community. We will be celebrating all that is good about Northern Ireland as we mark 10 years of these wonderful awards, so we need people to tell us about their unsung heroes who deserve recognition.
While there will be many famous faces in the audience the real stars of the night will be our finalists and winners.
Sunday Life editor Martin Breen
“It is humbling to meet those incredible award nominees every year, and I look forward to hearing more inspirational stories about the amazing people in the lives of our readers.”
Chairman of Specsavers in Northern Ireland, Sean McCauley said: “Specsavers are thrilled to partner the fabulous Spirit of Northern Ireland awards programme which this year celebrates its 10th anniversary. Year on year the awards throw a spotlight on so many brilliant people and how they individually have made such a huge difference to their local community, town or village and the people who live there.
“Speaking on behalf of staff in our 22 Specsavers stores, we’d like to urge the public to put forward an inspirational unsung hero of any age, who they feel richly deserves this very special recognition.
“We’re looking forward to a wonderful awards evening in June marking 10 years of these remarkable community awards.”
Here are just some of our winners over the past decade of the awards:
When wee Oscar Knox took to the stage in 2013 to be crowned our Spirit of Northern Ireland winner, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house at the Culloden Hotel.
Tears fell in admiration for this courageous child, then just four years old, who had endured so much pain, yet kept smiling and, it was thought, had finally won his battle.
Many more tears were shed less than a year later when the heroic young boy, in the words of his loving parents Leona and Stephen “gained his angel wings”.
Thanks to his parents’ Fearless Oscar Knox campaign, the story of this incredibly brave little boy, from Mallusk in Newtownabbey, captured the imagination of us all - and united our communities.
Brave Davitt still doesn’t believe that he’s a hero, despite saving the life of beautiful baby Rionaghac-Ann.
He risked his life to save the then four-month-old baby after her father’s car went down a slipway in a horrendous drowning tragedy.
Davitt dived into the freezing water at Buncrana harbour and swam out to the sinking car in March 2016.
Inside were five members of one Londonderry family who all perished: Ruth Daniels (57), her daughter Jodie Lee Daniels (14), her son-in-law Sean McGrotty (49) and his sons Mark (12) and eight-year-old Evan.
But brave Davitt managed to rescue baby Rionaghac-Ann by raising her up and swimming back to safety. Rionaghac-Ann is the only surviving member of mother Louise James’ family.
Just months later, the 32-year-old footballer, from Kerrykeel, Co Donegal, received our Unsung Hero and Overall Winner awards to a standing ovation from guests at the packed Culloden Hotel, including then First Minister Arlene Foster and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.
The Newry man was presented with the Overcoming Adversity award by one of his sporting heroes, top local jockey Sir Anthony McCoy.
He was honoured for his work with the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust, which he set up in memory of his 26-year-old son, who died in a suspected hit-and-run in New York in June 2013. As soon as news of Kevin’s tragic death broke, the people of Newry sprung into action to support the family and within days had raised a staggering £150,000 to help bring his body back home.
Fortunately, the family did not need the money because Kevin’s employers in New York paid to have him brought back home. They instead decided to use the money to help others.
Since then, Colin (65), with the help of wife Eithne, has helped bring home the bodies of more than 300 people to Ireland, including those of Sister Clare Crockett, who died in the 2016 Ecuador earthquake, and Danielle McLaughlin, from Buncrana, who was murdered in Goa last year.
The popular Coleraine barman, who has dedicated his life to helping people in need, was the overall Spirit of Northern Ireland winner in 2017.
Big-hearted Willie is well-known across Northern Ireland for his incredible charity work, having raised at least £500,000 for charity over the years, and also as the jovial manager of the popular Harbour Bar in Portrush.
He is best-known for setting up Willie’s Orphan Fund in the wake of the tsunami in Thailand in 2004. He committed himself to raising £2,000 a month to help the orphans - a challenge he has kept, and to date has raised around £300,000 for them alone.
An orphanage was built, and not only has Willie provided for their basic needs, but he has also secured the future of hundreds through an education fund, helping many of them go to university.
Sergeant Mark Wright
A policeman who risked his life to rescue two children was our 999 Hero at the 2017 Sunday Life Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards with Specsavers.
PSNI Sergeant Mark Wright didn’t hesitate when he was called to a serious incident in Lurgan following reports that a thug had assaulted a number of women before locking himself in a house with a toddler and a baby.
Even though he sustained serious injuries when he was stabbed in the head and face by the man, Mark bravely wrestled him to the ground as he was attempting to stab a police colleague in the neck. The arrested man is now serving seven years in prison.
The football-mad Lurgan schoolboy is only 14 years old but has made such a huge impact that he needs no introduction as everyone will have heard of him.
He was the toast of the province three years ago when he won the overall award at the Sunday Life Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards with Specsavers.
Jay has become a hero for people with Down’s syndrome, helping change perceptions and winning the hearts of some of the world’s biggest football stars and their fans along the way.
The Celtic fan won fans across the world when then Celtic manager Neil Lennon spotted him in the crowd at Celtic Park in 2014 and presented him with his SPL winner’s medal.
Striker Georgios Samaras then took a jubilant Jay in his arms and did a lap of honour on the pitch. A touching online video of the special moment - now one of many starring Jay - has been watched by millions worldwide. At the match, Jay was invited onto the pitch at half time to take a penalty and the crowd erupted when he scored. It was filmed and entered into a goal of the month contest, which led to a landslide vote of 97% making him the only non-professional footballer in the world to win the Scottish Goal of the Month award.
Peter Dolan’s world was shattered when his teenage son Enda was killed by a drunk driver shortly after starting university in Belfast in October 2014.
In the dark days after the 18-year-old’s death, the distraught dad, who won our Overcoming Adversity Award sponsored by Specsavers last year, channelled his grief into establishing a charity in his son’s memory.
The Enda Dolan Foundation is a fitting legacy to the bright and talented young man, focusing on improving the physical and mental health of thousands of people.
It all started when keen runner Peter created the Run For Enda, which attracts thousands of participants each year, all running in memory of his beloved son.
He has also established numerous six-week couch-to-5k running programmes, which he coaches himself, inspiring and leading his community towards a healthier lifestyle.
The 51-year-old, from Killyclogher in Co Tyrone, has improved the lives of many people in the Omagh area by introducing the successful Park Run to the town, which attracts hundreds.