Judges have spent hours poring over nominations for this year’s Comet Community Awards, praising the high quality of the entries.

Representatives from our sponsors met at Hitchin’s Kingshott School– itself a sponsor – last week, where they read through the many nominations across 12 different categories.

Those who have made the shortlist are being contacted this week ahead of the awards night on May 18, and we will published the names of all the finalists in next week’s Comet. If you can’t wait until then, you can find out who they are at cometcommunityawards.co.uk.

This year will see the ceremony return to Hotel Cromwell in Stevenage Old Town, something judge Rebecca Davis is very excited about.

“Both manager Dean Thompson and myself were extremely proud to have been part of the judging panel for this year’s awards,” said the hotel’s sales manager.

“We were overwhelmed with the nominations and found it a hard task choosing the finalists. The awards was last held at the Cromwell Hotel seven years ago, so we can’t wait to welcome everyone back!”

Andy Stroomer – site director of Airbus Stevenage, the sponsor for Teacher of the Year – said: “This award highlights our appreciation for all teachers who work hard to deliver the crucial education required by our next generation of satellite engineers, technicians and scientists.

“It was truly heart-warming reading the stories of all the nominees this year. It was difficult to select a winner, as they are all winners in our community and certainly an inspiration to us all.”

Verity Hague from the Hertfordshire Fostering Recruitment Team, which sponsors the Valiant Volunteer category, said: “It was an honour to be involved in judging the heroes of our community who give their time and sacrifice so much to make a difference to the places where we live.

“We are always looking to recruit foster carers from a variety of backgrounds to meet the diverse needs of our children, in particular to keep sibling groups together and to provide care for children over the age of 10, so it was also a pleasure to network with local businesses and create partnerships for the future.”

Bus company Arriva said: “Arriva are proud to sponsor the Good Neighbour Award. We employ local people to help connect you and your neighbours to the local community. Not only are our employees your neighbours they go the extra mile every day to help you get out and about.

“It is a real pleasure to hear and share the stories of neighbours who give up their precious time to help others in their neighbourhood.

Rachel Pautard from ReAssure said: “ReAssure are delighted to be sponsoring The Great and Green Category. I was lucky enough to join the judging panel along with other local businesses and spent time reading through the nominations and the amazing work that others do for our community!

“I can’t wait for the awards night to meet some of these inspiring people who really do make a difference. It’s definitely going to be an emotional one!”

And Gary Wilkinson, CEO and co-founder of Letchworth-based Redwood Bank, said: “The team at Redwood Bank is proud to support the Comet Community Awards. The local business community have warmly welcomed us and we are proud to be part of this community and to be able to support such an event which recognises our local heroes.

“We congratulate all of those nominated, who are quite frankly inspiring, and thank the Comet for organising and staging such an excellent awards programme.”