Tell us amazing stories of how unsung heroes make real difference as our awards give them 'credit they deserve'
A COMMUNITY Champion is the person who gives his or her time, effort and help to others with no questions asked and who will be there in a heartbeat to help out a friend or neighbour.
They are the people who undertake selfless acts to raise thousands of pounds for charities to try to find a cure for debilitating conditions they themselves may be suffering from.
It is the team coach, scout leader or friend that gives up evenings, weekends or whole weeks of their lives to allow others to develop, grow and have fun.
But many people, all too often, are not given the credit they deserve – and that is where the Community Champions awards step in.
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Each year, hundreds of people are nominated for their work across the county – with 14 winners invited to a star-studded evening at Pride Park to thank them for their dedication.
Today marks the start of this year's call for nominations in 14 different categories in the 2013 Community Champions awards. This year, the awards are being organised by the Mayor's Office and sponsored by The Derbyshire Building Society and Derby County.
This year's nominations are in the following categories: carer, fund-raiser of the year, cultural champion, diversity, achieving against the odds, children in the community, courage, extra mile, great neighbour, kindness to animals, unsung sporting hero, the Chief Constable's special award, the Mayor's volunteer award and the "be inspiring" award.
On May 12, the winners, along with their friends, family and some mystery celebrities, will once again descend on Pride Park for an evening of awards, laughter and tears.
Last year, there was hardly a dry eye as hundreds celebrated the work of 14 incredible individuals.
Among them was Delia El-Hosayny, who came to the aid of her neighbour after she suffered an allergic reaction.
Delia, 45, first made friends with the Singleton family while chatting over the garden fence at their homes in Anglesey Street, Chaddesden.
But when Margaret Singleton fell ill with a rare condition that caused blisters in her throat, Delia became more than just a good neighbour. The kind-hearted 44-year-old helped with cooking, shopping, cleaning and even dialled 999 on one occasion.
The bouncer, who has worked the doors of Derby for more than a quarter of a century, said: "They were panicking when she had the allergic reaction and I just stepped in and called the ambulance.
"I just did it because that is what I had to do at the time.
"If I hadn't made that call she wouldn't be here today."
Delia, who was presented with the award by auctioneer Charles Hanson, was nominated by Margaret's daughter, Ann, but the first she knew of it was the phone call from a Derby Telegraph reporter.
She said: "I didn't know anything about it, I was shocked. It was lovely to be nominated and fantastic to win as well.
"Charles Hanson gave me my award and he was lovely.
"It was great to get to know him during the day and he was very interesting, although I think he was a bit scared of me!
"It was wonderful meeting all the stars and the other winners. It was a brilliant day. I would urge anyone who knows someone that has helped them to nominate them. People will often put themselves forward for things but there are silent heroes who never get any credit who need to be praised."
The Mayor of Derby, Councillor Lisa Higginbottom, who will present one of the awards, said: "I am very proud to once again be supporting the Community Champions event and this year we are taking an even greater involvement organising and co-ordinating the awards.
"During my time as Mayor I have been lucky enough to meet so many incredible people who help others, both from the city and the county as a whole. We are extremely lucky to have so many selfless people who give up their time to make others' lives more enjoyable, fun-filled and generally better on a day-to-day basis.
"I know last year there were some incredible winners and I have high hopes for this year's nominees. I would urge everyone who knows someone that makes a difference in their community to put their name forward and give them the credit they deserve."
Neil White, editor of the Derby Telegraph, attended last year's awards and, as ever, was amazed by the incredible stories of strength, determination and hope.
He said: "Community Champions is a huge event.
"Every year there are so many entries that show the incredible, selfless acts which people undertake every day, whether it be fund-raising for charities, running sports teams, co-ordinating huge city-wide projects or simply being there when a neighbour needs them most.
"I am always humbled by the amazing stories that people have to tell. But all this couldn't happen unless you, the people of Derbyshire, let us know who deserves these awards. So if there is someone special who you believe deserves a nomination, fill out the form and make that person realise how much that person means."
Tim Etherington was another of the award winners from last year's nominees.
The 45-year-old from Belper won the courage award after he set up a ten-pin bowling club for blind and partially-sighted people.
Tim said: "I actually knew I had been nominated because the woman who nominated me, Vasanti Mistry, rang me up to tell me because she was so excited."
But not for a minute did Tim think he was in with a shout of winning an award.
He said: "I have actually judged these awards before and knew the amazing things people did so I never thought that I would be in the running."
So the call for Tim was quite a shock.
"It was a good job I was sitting down, that's all I can say," he said.
"I was presented with my award by (singing duo) Miss 600, who were great, and hearing the other stories was amazing To hear what other people have done with their disabilities is amazing."
Nominations should be sent to Joey Severn, Derby Telegraph, Northcliffe House, Meadow Road, Derby, DE1 2BH or fill in the online form below.