WE are thrilled to present to you our finalists in the Oxfordshire Health & Care Awards 2021, each and every one of them fully deserving of their place in the finals.

When we launched these awards early last month, little did we know just how enormous the response would be. Loyal colleagues have nominated their co-workers; appreciative kids have nominated their mums; loving husbands have nominated their wives; and, perhaps most importantly of all, grateful patients and service users have nominated those who have made their lives bearable during the past 12months: the nurses, doctors, mental health experts, receptionists, care home staff and others who have shown themselves to be exceptional.

We thank all of you who sent in nominations. They have been incredible to read, and you gave our panel of judges no easy task in whittling down the scores of entries to just three finalists in each of our 12 categories.

But at last they have managed to do just that and so do please read on and discover the amazing stories readers have shared with us.

Pete Gavan, editor of the Oxford Mail and Oxford Times, said: “When we launched these awards, we didn’t know what sort of response we’d get. But we were overwhelmed with the number and the quality of the entries.

“Judging them down to these finalists was not an easy task but today we can reveal the cream of the crop. It’s fantastic to be able to shine a light on the work they have done over this past year. ”

As well as congratulating the 36 finalists, we must also say well done to the runners-up. Every single person and organisation who was put forward deserves recognition for the work they have done to make people’s lives immeasurably better in what has been the hardest year in living memory for many of us. On page 14, we bring you just a glimpse of the testimonials people put forward in tribute to them.

In just under a month, we will be able to celebrate our care heroes with a glittering virtual awards ceremony hosted by none other than GP and TV personality Dr Hilary Jones.

The awards will be streamed live on the Oxford Mail and Oxford Times Facebook pages from 7pm on May 21.

There is no limit to the number of people who can tune in, so invite your friends and family, pour yourselves a glass of bubbly and help us toast the best of our health and care workers.