THE moment we've all been waiting for is almost here: next week, we will be able to reveal the finalists of the Wiltshire Health & Social Care Awards.

In a special supplement, free with the Swindon Advertiser and Gazette & Herald on Thursday, April 29, and in the Wiltshire Times on Friday, April 30, we will introduce you to the top three nominees in each categories, as chosen by our panel of judges.

The winners will then be named at a virtual awards ceremony hosted by GP and TV personality Dr Hilary Jones and streamed live on our Facebook page on May 21 from 7pm.

The awards, generously sponsored by the Wasdell Group, have uncovered countless tales of staff, volunteers and members of the public who have valiantly stepped up during the pandemic and whose impact on those around them has not gone unnoticed or unappreciated.

The winners will be named at a virtual awards ceremony hosted by GP and TV personality Dr Hilary Jones and streamed live on our Facebook page on May 27 from 7pm.

“I’m absolutely delighted to finally be able to reveal that Dr Hilary Jones will be hosting our awards ceremony,” said editor Pete Gavan. “Unfortunately, due to Covid restrictions, the ceremony will be held virtually. While we are disappointed not to be able to meet our finalists in person, this will give us the opportunity to open the event to all our readers, wherever they may be. There will be no limit on how many people can attend, so do join us on the night and help us celebrate our worthy winners and runners-up.”

Video profiles of each of the finalists showcasing their incredible work in the fight against coronavirus will be broadcast at the ceremony. The judging panel will also handpick their overall Health & Social Care hero on the night.

From volunteers and key workers to extraordinary nurses and compassionate carers, scores of everyday heroes have been put forward for an award over the past few weeks. Among the hopefuls in the Domiciliary Care Worker category is Christina Guy, a devoted carer for Bluebird Care in Swindon, who went above and beyond to keep her charges and family safe, from working seven days a week for six months to living out of a camper van.

“During the last year she has gone above and beyond to ensure the safety of my 101-year-old mother,” explained Richard Courtney, who nominated her. “To minimise the risk of passing on Covid-19 to people in her care she worked seven days a week for over six months so there was no need for relief carers. She also moved out of her parents' house and lived in a camper van parked on the driveway until everyone had had their vaccination.”

The team at Rowden Surgery in Chippenham is in the running for GP Practice of the Year. A key immunisation centre in Wiltshire, it was instrumental in the rollout of the vaccine. As of last March, the surgery had vaccinated more than 15,000 people in Wiltshire, according to staff member Franki Halliwell, who nominated her colleagues for the award.

“Rowden is the vaccination site for the Chippenham, Corsham and Box primary care network and has been offering special clinics on weekends for patients to come in for vaccinations, as well as still continuing to provide outstanding patient care and making sure every patient always has a named doctor to support their needs,” she said. “The surgery has been flooded with praise from patients and every member of the team is doing a fantastic job that absolutely should be recognised.”