JUDGES deliberated for hours before eventually agreeing on winners in the Pride of Hartlepool Awards.
The six-strong panel of judges had the unenviable task of sifting through shortlists to find individual category winners.
Scores of nominations had flooded in and almost 40 people, groups, charities, and emergency services personnel were shortlisted.
There are 10 categories in the awards which, for the first time, include one for young performer of the year.
The Local Hero award will be decided by our readers in a text and telephone vote and further details will be in the Mail soon.
The winners will be revealed at an emotional evening ceremony at the new £53m Hartlepool College of Further Education on March 22.
Hartlepool Mail editor Joy Yates said: “The nominations reflect every aspect of what is special about Hartlepool.
“I think all of the judges will agree that we had a difficult task selecting winners when everyone who was nominated is thoroughly deserving of an award in their own way.
“A special thank you goes to everyone who embraced the awards, including sponsors and partners, and those people who put forward nominations.
“Judging the nominations is always the most difficult part and now we can look forward to celebrating and honouring the achievements of some exceptionally special people.
“It promises to be an emotional awards evening which will reflect the community spirit, courage and compassion that exists in Hartlepool.
“We should be so proud of the people of Hartlepool.”
Joining the Mail’s editor on the judging team were TFM DJ Anthony Collins, Middleton Grange Shopping Centre boss Mark Rycraft, Gemma Borthwick from Niramax, Alistair Baker of Northumbria Water and Helen Watts from Hartlepool College of Further Education.
The annual awards have again captured the imagination of the town with leading businesses and organisations backing them.
Those shortlisted will be contacted in the near future, and a full list of potential winners will be published in the build-up to the big night.
Leading waste management company Niramax is the main sponsor of the awards while Hartlepool College of Further Education is a major backer.
Also on board is TFM Radio, Northumbrian Water, Gus Robinson Developments, Huntsman, The Vela Group which incorporates Housing Hartlepool, EDF and Middleton Grange.
The Hartlepool Mail’s Pride of Hartlepool Awards honour those exceptional people who make the town the place it is and go that extra mile to improve their communities and the lives of those around them.
Unsung heroes go about their daily lives with no thought of praise or publicity so it is up to us to showcase their dedication and determination and highlight their achievements.
The Pride of Hartlepool Awards is the perfect platform to do that.