The Northern Echo has teamed up with Durham County Council again to shine a richly-deserved spotlight on our unsung heroes.

The County Durham Together Awards at Hardwick Hall Hotel, near Sedgefield, on Wednesday, December 6 2023, are about recognising those individuals and teams who have gone the extra mile to help our communities.

The annual awards give us the chance to shine a spotlight on some of the inspirational, selfless, dedicated people - the unsung heroes in our region.

There wasn't a dry eye in the house at last year's events - and this year's once again will bring a rollercoaster of emotions.

And we need your help to celebrate these heroes.

You can nominate in as many categories as you wish. All entries must be received by Friday, October 6 by 12 noon. click here

The Northern Echo:

Unsung Hero

This award will be presented to someone who, by giving up their free time, has made a significant contribution to other people’s lives or their community.

Key Worker of the Year

This award will be presented to an individual who has played a vital role to public health and safety. It could be a person who went beyond the requirements of their role to provide support to those who needed it the most, under the most challenging circumstances.

Public Service Award

This award recognises 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 area.

Volunteer of the Year

This award will be presented to a volunteer who has played a vital role in helping others. Selflessly using their time and energy to help benefit others.

Carer of the Year

This award recognises someone who have played a vital role in helping others. It could be an individual who has existing or new care 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

This award will recognise community or voluntary groups who have a significantly positive impact on individuals or groups of individuals. 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

This award will recognise groups or projects which promote the improvement of health and wellbeing within their communities. It may be a project which offers advice, counselling and support for those with health issues. The category is open to all charities, voluntary organisations, community groups and individuals.

Environment Award

This award will go to an individual or organisation which has made a positive contribution to the environment. This could include the physical environment as well as helping to protect our climate.

Visitor Economy Award

Recognising an individual, organisation or business who has played a vital role in promoting the county as a safe and great place to visit for staycationeers, supporting the hospitality and tourism sector, to help visitor economy. It could include an advocate for the county, innovation in the visitor offer or recognise entrepreneurial skills.

Business of the year

Awarded to a County Durham company that has helped support the greater good or the region. This could be through key initiatives, donations to local causes, or releasing staff to undertake voluntary work.

Sports Person/Team of the Year

This award will recognise an individual or team in a sporting discipline, individual sport or sporting event that has achieved the most notable performance in recent months and shown examples of outstanding commitment, dedication and enthusiasm in their chosen sport.

Special Recognition Award

(Not open for entries) Awarded to an individual or organisation which has played a vital role in shining a positive spotlight on the county.

Read more: Northern Echo County Durham Together Awards held at Ramside Hall

Cllr Amanda Hopgood, Leader of Durham County Council, said: “We are pleased to once again be supporting the County Durham Together Awards. We know our communities are full of people who go out of their way to make a difference to the daily lives of others.

"These awards provide us with a fantastic opportunity to recognise what they do. We have had some very worthy winners over the past few years and I am sure we will see many more this year.”

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Gavin Foster, editor of The Northern Echo, said: “It's fantastic to be able to celebrate and recognise the unsung heroes in our community who do so much and deserve so much recognition. 

"Last year we were blown away by the amazing stories of achievement, endeavour and dedication of so many people across County Durham and how much they do in their communities.

"We are looking forward to celebrating this once more."