THE NORTHERN ECHO and Durham County Council have teamed up to launch a new awards scheme to recognise those who have gone above and beyond during the coronavirus pandemic.

The County Durham Together Awards, which will be held virtually on December 10, will celebrate the individuals, groups, and businesses who have played a key role in supporting communities in the county over the last few months

Leader of Durham County Council, Cllr Simon Henig said: “We are delighted to support the County Durham Together Awards. Our communities have always been strong and supportive, and are part of what makes this county so special. During the pandemic individuals, businesses, community and voluntary groups have all pulled together to support each other in these unprecedented times.

“Sadly many residents have been directly affected by Covid-19 and we are having to continue to live with the virus. We know of many instances and heart-warming stories where people have helped our most vulnerable residents, often people they don’t know, as well as those they do; running errands, shopping, donating food and in some cases providing someone to talk to.

The Northern Echo:

“Throughout the pandemic we have kept key services going. We also provided support to individuals in need through our dedicated County Durham Together Community hub, through various grants and assistance we have also been able to support businesses and individuals in need in the county. We have also provided £3.9m for local community and volunteer projects, supporting 335 applications across the county.

“The County Durham Together awards are aimed at recognising the many people who have played a key role in supporting our communities during the pandemic. Please do spare the time to nominate and highlight people and organisations who have really made a difference during these challenging times. They are what make the county so special.”

Hannah Chapman, editor of The Northern Echo, added: “We know how challenging 2020 has been for our communities, and we have reported on so many individual acts of kindness, that we felt now was the right time to have a bigger celebration of County Durham’s finest. We would have loved to get all the nominees together to do this, but as that’s not going to be possible, we’ll hand out our awards at a virtual ceremony, showcasing their brilliance to an even wider online audience.”

Nominations can be made via the form below, or online at

Nominations can be made in the following categories:

  • Unsung Hero Award: Someone who, by giving up their free time, has made a significant contribution to other people’s lives or to their community.
  • Key Worker of the Year Award: An individual who was a nominated key worker during the coronavirus lockdown, playing a vital role to public health and safety. It could be a person who went above and beyond the requirements of their role to provide support to those who needed it most, under the most challenging circumstances.
  • Public Service Award: A public service team or individual making an outstanding contribution to the community in which they work. We want to hear about people who have gone above and beyond to provide a vital service for people in the local area.
  • Volunteer of the Year Award: A volunteer who has continued to help others during the coronavirus lockdown, playing a vital role in helping others.
  • Carer of the Year Award: Someone who has cared for someone during the coronavirus lockdown or played a vital role in helping others. It could be an individual who has existing or new caring responsibilities or someone who is employed as a carer who went above and beyond the requirements of their role to provide support to those who needed it most.
  • Community/Voluntary Group Award: Community or voluntary groups who have a significantly positive impact on individuals or groups of individuals during the pandemic. We are looking for evidence of how this work has made the community a better or safer place to live. The category is open to all charities or voluntary organisations and community groups.
  • Health and Wellbeing Award: Groups or projects which promote the improvement of health and wellbeing within their communities. It could be an initiative which promotes healthy lifestyles, or provides support to help people stop smoking. It may be a project which offers advice, counselling and support for those with health issues. The category is open to all charities or voluntary organisation, community groups and individuals.
  • Environment Award: An individual or organisation which has made a positive contribution to the environment during the pandemic, this could include the physical environment as well as helping to protect our climate.
  • Visitor Economy Award: An individual, organisation or business who has played a vital role in helping to promote the county as a safe and great place to visit for staycationers, supporting the hospitality and tourism sector during the pandemic and to help visitor economy. It could include being an advocate for the county or parts of the county, innovation in the visitor offer or recognise entrepreneurial skills.
  • Small/Medium Sized Company of the Year: A small or medium sized company (with less than 250 employees) which has supported individuals, communities or the voluntary sector during the pandemic. It could be through providing support in kind, doing deliveries to those shielding, or providing equipment to help protect key workers.
  • Large Company of the Year: This award will go to a large County Durham company (with more than 250 employees) that is judged to have helped support the greater good during the pandemic. This could be by producing/providing equipment to key organisations working during the pandemic to care/support those at greatest risk, or by releasing staff to undertake voluntary work, providing funding or other in kind support during the pandemic.