From a young man with Down’s syndrome’s Clap for Heroes antics to an expat in Italy holding daily Covid briefings to keep Swindonians safe, scores of extraordinary community stalwarts have been nominated for the Swindon and Wiltshire Health & Care Awards so far.

And there is still time to put outstanding medical teams, GP practices and good Samaritans forward for the awards, run it partnership with Wasdell Group.

This is your chance to show anyone involved in the fight against coronavirus that their contribution has not gone unnoticed. And remember, not every Covid hero wears PPE.

Among the nominees for the Unsung Hero in the Community Award is 29-year-old Sam Pierce, who for the past 12 months has put his own spin on the Clap for Carers campaign by dressing up as different key workers each week, from postmen to lorry drivers and firemen, in his own personal bid to pay tribute those keeping the country going during the pandemic.

Many in the community have come to look forward to and rely on Sam’s moving and entertaining displays of solidarity towards the often-overlooked workforce quietly supporting the coronavirus effort – not least Amanda Hancock, who put him up for a nomination.

“He has been Spiderman and Superman for NHS heroes, a lorry driver, a chef feeding essential workers, a fireman, a refuse man, a shop worker, a scientist researching the vaccine, a teacher, a policeman,” said Amanda.

“Sam wanted to do all of these tributes himself and every week he sits down and chooses with his mum who he could clap for and why they have helped the nation. It’s on his mum’s Facebook so key workers can see that they are not forgotten and that everything they do makes a difference.”

Last week, Sam reached his goal of donning the uniforms of, and clapping for, 21 different professions by March 21 to mark World Down’s Syndrome Day.

“As an unpaid carer and a teaching assistant seeing Sam every week makes me realise that all we do in our roles really does make a difference,” added Amanda.

“Every week the comments people make on his mum’s Facebook page show that he is keeping people’s spirits up. It’s helping them continue in this strange time that we live in.

“Every week he helps our mental health by making us smile and making us realise everyone plays an important part during this pandemic. Sam is definitely deserving of the Unsung Hero Award.”

Also vying for a spot in the Unsung Hero in the Community category is Craig Alexander, who was nominated by Swindon Borough councillor Jim Robbins. Despite living in Italy, Swindonian Craig has used his experience as a statistician to keep his hometown safe throughout the pandemic, providing up-to-the-minute localised information and helping to track cases.

“His daily briefings have allowed people to understand the true picture in their locality and make the adjustments necessary to keep them and their families safe,” said Cllr Robbins.

“It has taken him hours and hours each week to download the data, crunch the numbers for the Swindon wards, create the maps and tables and share them on Facebook. He has recently started to do the same with vaccination data and showing that the biggest falls in infection rates have happened where the vaccination rates have been highest.”

His data-driven approach has gone a long way to stem the spread of misinformation and encourage locals to get vaccinated, according to Cllr Robbins.

“Craig’s commitment to spreading accurate data is incredible. He has helped encourage take-up of the vaccine by showing the benefits of it and making it easy to the see the impact. Doing a daily update for a community in another country demonstrates his passion and his commitment to using the national data and presenting it down to community level has made it much more relatable and understandable for Swindon residents looking for the truth in a world full of spin.”