The wait for the Swindon and Wiltshire Health & Care Awards 2021 is nearly over.

The winners in each of the 12 categories will be announced by none other than TV’s Dr Hilary Jones at a virtual ceremony livestreamed on the Swindon Advertiser, Gazette & Herald and Wiltshire Times Facebook pages on May 27 from 7pm. The judges will also finally reveal who was deemed worthy of the overall Outstanding Achievement Award on the night.

Until then, we’re continuing with our rundown of the finalists in the awards, which are sponsored by Wasdell Group, and this week we meet those who are hoping to come out on top in the Good Nurse, Dementia Carer and Domiciliary Care categories.

Lisa Hocking, who stepped up as the Great Western Hospital’s infection, prevention and control lead from the outset of the pandemic and spearheaded the region’s Covid response is in the running for the Good Nurse Award alongside Laura Kirby-Deacon, an ICU nurse whose efforts to ease the pain of grieving families unable to say their last goodbyes due to Covid-19 visiting restrictions made international headlines. She was nominated by GWH communications and engagement officer, Kate Myrie, who said: “Laura asked local people to knit pairs of hearts in all colours. When a patient was coming to the end of their life, a pair of hearts were given to the patient. One heart was wrapped with the body, and the other was sent to the family via the funeral directors. Over 10,000 hearts were donated to the cause and knitted by local residents in Swindon and Wiltshire. Families have spoken of their gratitude and the comfort that the hearts have brought to them during an incredibly difficult time of grief.”

Last but not least, Michelle Grange, a Swindon Community Health Services matron and all-round “angel with wings” was put forward for the award by a grateful mother for supporting her daughter through countless hospital admissions due to a congenital heart defect and personally ensuring she continued to receive the best possible care during the pandemic.

Tim Allen and Hannah Rogers, a pair of Admiral Nurses providing specialist dementia support at the GWH are among the finalists in the Dementia Carer category.

They said: “We’re thrilled to be nominated for the Dementia Carer award. Supporting families and carers who look after an individual with dementia is a job we are so privileged to do. We’re so proud to support such inspiring carers who are unsung everyday heroes, particularly this past year during the pandemic”. They will be vying for the top spot against

Lily O'Brien, whose work as part of Alzheimer’s Support’s Devizes & Melksham home service proved a lifeline for dozens of dementia sufferers during successive lockdowns, and GWH top team Wendy Johnson, associate director of safeguarding, and Dr Sarah White, consultant geriatrician, whose unwavering commitment to patient care has improved countless lives.

Christina Guy, a devoted carer for Bluebird Care in Swindon who went above and beyond to keep her charges and family safe, from working seven days a week for six months to living out of a camper van is one of the unsung heroes up for the Domiciliary Care Worker Award.

Fellow finalist Karen Philpott, domiciliary care manager for Florence Court Extra Care Housing in Trowbridge, showed her mettle as a leader from the outset of the pandemic, making staff’s wellbeing a priority by operating an open-door policy, offering mentorship to all and ramping up training and support.

Completing the Top 3 is Sonya Brewer, a care worker of First City Nursing, whose unflagging positivity not only inspired and motivated but brought hope and comfort to both her team and patients through a harrowing year. She was nominated by her colleague Sam Roberts who said: “Sonya is undoubtedly the happiest most positive person I have ever met. Nothing is too much trouble. She does anything that is asked of her to make the customers lives better. She is a joy to speak to and brings happiness and light into people’s lives.”

Next week, meet the finalists in the Healthcare Team, GP Practice of the Year and Care Home Worker categories.