The Awards for Excellence really is one of the highlights of the Manx calendar.

The event, which is organised by this newspaper’s publisher, Media Isle of Man, brings together people from many walks of life in the Isle of Man.

It honours organisations in the public, private and third sector as well as individuals.

Award-winning author and film-maker Monty Halls will be the host the event, which takes place tonight (Thursday).

An ex-Royal Marines officer, Monty qualified as a marine biologist and is best known for his work on the BBC series Great Escape and his literary achievements, from his regular contributions to magazines and newspapers as well as his best-selling book My Family and the Galapagos, as seen on Channel 4.

With this year’s Awards for Excellence theme highlighting the maritime industry, the ceremony has chosen the RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) as its nominated charity – which Monty has supported previously, after helping to raise funds by pulling a replica lifeboat for 50 miles across the course of three days.

Next year the RNLI marks its 200th anniversary. The charity was founded by Sir William Hillary, who lived in Douglas and who saw first-hand just how treacherous the sea could be.

He witnessed dozens of shipwrecks around the Manx coast and saved many lives with the help of locals.

Appropriately, the Mariners’ Choir will sing for the guests.

Around 1,200 people pack the Villa Marina for the event.

They include the finalists in the awards, the Lieutenant Governor, Chief Minister and other MHKs and MLCs and the Mayor of Douglas.

Every RNLI volunteer has been invited to attend, along with last year’s 30 Under 30 winners, an event again organised by Media Isle of Man.

There are 16 awards in a number of categories. The finalists find out on the night who’s won.

An independent panel of judges pore through the applications to determine the finalists and the winners.

One of the highlights of the night is the Lifetime Achievement Award.

The identity of the recipient is a closely-guarded secret and they find out only on the night that they have won.

Their friends and family help to put together a tribute to them. It’s always a poignant and sometimes tear-jerking experience.

Trudi Williamson, Media Isle of Man’s deputy chairman, said: ‘The Awards for Excellence underlines what we already know.

‘The Isle of Man is a wonderful place with a great sense of community.

‘This is our 17th awards ceremony and I’m always surprised, delighted and humbled at different parts of the night.’

She added: ‘We’d like to thank all the organisations that have entered this year. The standard gets higher and higher.

‘We must also thank the sponsors, without which the event would not be possible, and all the judges.’