We’re standing at the edge of a pit in Kiruna. The town is falling into one, and we’re in danger of throwing away the only opportunity we have to replace it.

This is Kiruna’s hour of need. Not by any stretch of the imagination it’s ‘finest hour’ – though that’s the film chosen for our pre-Christmas film treat at the local cinema. In our wildest dreams we can’t imagine this is anything to be proud of, staring down into that pit, the wind whistling in our hair. There’s a deathly silence. What’s to happen to Kiruna?

The town is emptying as the mine buys up properties. With ample compensation offered it’s no surprise that both businesses and flat owners prefer the cash to the compromise – waiting for LKAB to build a replacement flat or shop for them somewhere in the new town.

In the new town there’s a town hall, and a road layout, and pipes laid out for services, but not a lot else. There’s still no sign of flats or houses, shops, restaurants, or hotels, indeed no sign of anything that might indicate this area might really become a town. There’s just that wind, whistling now around the old town hall clock, erected spookily in a big empty space next to the new town hall.

What Kiruna needs is a good old fashioned hero. Someone to ride into town, perhaps not ‘with all guns blazing’, but at least with a steely look in his or her eye, and probably a mighty fine horse. A hero to take this town on, to tell people they mean business, they can make it, a town with options, a town where people want to live. No-one knows how though, we just live in hope.

That’s surely where the competition, ‘Kiruna Inhabitant 2017’ comes in. It’s held every year, and, quite simply, people in Kiruna vote for the person they think has done the town most good. In the past we’ve had authors, social workers, business entrepreneurs, cultural administrators, shoe makers, rights campaigners, doctors, sports people and rock bands. When you go to your local corner shop you can stick in your vote, and then we all wait until January to find out who’s won.

This is where I get a bit confused. There are some worthy winners here in the short list of six but strangely, not one of them is doing anything to try and save Kiruna town. I wouldn’t expect any of them to throw themselves in front of the bulldozers, but it would be nice if this year’s town hero might be someone who was doing what they could to come up with clever ideas to attract people to set up business or life in the new town, or better still, to do it themselves. It’s a mighty task though, and for that we’d need a mighty hero.

Enter, Johan Lans and Johan Stålnacke, for instance. They’re very successful businessmen, and they run a popular hotel and an even more popular restaurant in town called ‘Spis’. Now we think ’68 degrees’ is without doubt the best place to stay, but when you want to eat the place in town to go is their restaurant at ‘Spis’, just a few minutes up the road from us. They are admirable local entrepreneurs.

And yet, what’s this? The shortlist says they are nominated not for their successful business but because, as the town begins to deteriorate and businesses leave, ‘Spis’ are still there, ‘keeping life going in the old city’. Not galloping into the new town on a wave of optimism and hope, but camped out in a beleaguered corner of the remaining town, hunkering down, waiting to see what happens.

Kiruna’s kind of heroes don’t blast their way into a new future – they stay put and make the best of things – at least until they’re forced to move on. And when that time comes, if ‘Spis’ moves to the new town, I’ll eat my hat.