It might seem like an easier task to pick villains from 2016, but nevertheless there are many who stood out in 2016. Some risked their lives to protect others; many tragically lost their lives simply going about their day-to-day activities. As we move onto a new year, it's vital we don't forget them. Here are the heroes of 2016, as picked by IBTimes UK columnists.

MICHAEL TONER: In 2016 I can think of nobody more deserving of that respect than the murdered Labour MP Jo Cox – not only because her dying thoughts were for the safety of her friends, but because her all too brief political career was devoted to the service of others.

We're often quick to denounce our elected representatives when they're caught with their trousers down or their fingers in the till, but in my experience most MPs – like Jo Cox – are honest, decent people doing their best for their constituents. We should never forget it.

JAMES BLOODWORTH: For heroes I would have to say the White Helmets in Syria – they brave conditions most of us cannot even imagine and are smeared for doing so by the Western Stalinoid left.

YASMIN ALIBHAI-BROWN: Sadiq Khan, Jo and Brendon Cox. Lenny Henry for making the BBC finally give space to black and Asian stories, and David Olusoga for his eye opening BBC series on black people in GB since the Roman times.

Sayeeda Warsi for speaking out against her own party's prejudices. Sandi Toksvig for still making us laugh and think. Sarah Olney for beating Zac Goldsmith in Richmond. Syrian White Helmets for rescuing people in a land left to die by the world. Angela Merkel, see above. Even though some refugees are dreadful people, she refuses to condemn all the rest.

JANE MERRICK: Jo Cox, whose message of common endeavour has led to MPs from all parties at Westminster being more collegiate. Michelle Obama for her slogan "When they go low, we go high". Ed Balls for Saturday evening escapism. Boris Johnson for his disruptive diplomacy towards Saudi Arabia.

GUYLINER: Comedian Janey Godley for welcoming Donald Trump to Scotland holding a sign saying "Trump is a c**t". Whoever it was that coined the phrase "discreet luxury residence" to mean a swanky Airbnb with gold taps and lax security.

LAURA BATES: The water protectors of Standing Rock, the young women at the forefront of the Black Lives Matter movement, and the Girlguiding advocates who took a powerful stand to call for compulsory sex and relationships education.

DANIEL HANNAN: Lots of people won unexpected elections in 2016. The least acknowledged of them is Colombia's Alvaro Uribe, who beat the odds and won a referendum against granting political concessions and parliamentary representation to the defeated narco-terrorist organisation, FARC.

JIMMY LEACH: Sadiq Khan and Angela Merkel were isolated voices of reason.

ALASTAIR CAMPBELL: The White Helmets, Jo Cox, Michelle Obama.

INNA SHEVCHENKO: Heroes in 2016 were women: famous and anonymous female heroes who were the first victims of all forms of oppression and the first to oppose these oppressions.