HEREFORDSHIRE’S unsung heroes, those working behind the scenes to make life better for others, will be coming under the spotlight next month.

For a third year in a row the search is on to find local heroes who are making a difference.

With just one more week to go before the deadline for nominations on February 16, time is running out for submissions to find this year’s Herefordshire Community Champions.

Herefordshire Council chairman, Councillor Brian Wilcox introduced the initiative in 2015, believing it provided a platform to say thank you to all those groups and individuals who have “gone that extra mile” to help their communities.

An elegant glass trophy will go to each winner in five categories at a presentation ceremony and dinner at Hereford Town Hall on March 16.

The prize for Community Champion will go to the individual or group judged to be best serving their community, while the Volunteer Champion award will go to the person who has given “freely and unselfishly” of his or her time to help others.

A Caring Champion will be singled out for providing support while a person or group who has significantly improved their environment could be in line for the Environmental Champion award.

The former category for an apprentice award has been widened to become Youth Champion, a young person under 21 who has demonstrated commitment and giving within their community.

“This is the first year we have included the Youth Champion award, and so far we only have a handful of nominations,” said coun Wilcox.

Last year’s ‘sustainability’ category has been changed to Environment Champion, and the Volunteer Champion will be drawn from the 17,000 carers registered across Herefordshire.

Coun Wilcox said he was “very proud” of those judged to be outstanding in their communities. “It was my initiative, and the reason was partly bearing in mind that the council was not in a position to support all the activities it used to support,” he said. “We’ve gone out to the community, saying can we help you to help yourselves.

“Lots of things have happened in communities across the county and that’s what I wanted to nurture and expand, to say thank you, as a council.”

He praised poultry giant, Cargill for its support. “Year on year they have sponsored the awards’ night and provided the £500 prize per award. Cargill is very community minded.”

Managing director Mary Thompson, Hereford Times editor John Wilson and Councillor Wilcox will judge the finalists.

Mayors across Herefordshire are promoting the awards, including Councillor Fred Clarke (Bromyard), Councillor Nigel Gibbs (Ross-on-Wye), Councillor Roger Pendleton (Leominster), Councillor Martin Fitton (Kington), Sharon Michael (Hereford) and Elaine Fieldhouse (Ledbury).

Trophies will be presented by Lord Lieutenant, Lady Darnley and Herefordshire crossbencher Lord Lisvane will be special guest on the night.