Emotions ran high as the winners of the 2017 Herald and Gazette Community Stars were revealed at tonight's awards ceremony.
There were tears of joy, moving moments and rapturous applause among the audience at the Connaught Theatre in Worthing.
Broadcaster Fred Dinenage hosted the awards in style and there was a warm atmosphere as the stars of our community were celebrated.
Every person nominated was honoured with a special certificate of achievement and the majority of the winners were chosen by our readers.
Best Youth Group winner was the popular pom-pom troupe The Wonder Girls / Boys, and founder Debbie Marsh was presented with the glass trophy by Arun District Council chairman Jacky Pendleton.
Inspirational Star winner was Jeanie Dickenson, who founded the Phoenix Club in Worthing, a social and sports group that has been running for 20 years.
Sports Star winner was wheelchair racer Nathan Freeman, who has shown true dedication, encouraging others while improving his own performance.
Best Fundraiser was Colin Strong, who raised more than £8,000 for 3rd Shoreham Sea Scout Group for the Scout hut to be made more accessible for wheelchair users.
Best Volunteer was the late Chris Smee, who was nominated posthumously having volunteered for Wadars Animal Rescue until he passed away suddenly this spring. Niamh Arnett from category sponsor UK Power Networks presented the award to his sister Sue, also a Wadars volunteer.
Charity of the year was Mencap Worthing, which runs Buddys Café and Information Centre, offering work experience for people with learning disabilities.
Super Senior was David Owen, a former soldier who has raised a huge amount of money for Help for Heroes since the charity was launched about ten years ago.
Outstanding Bravery winner was Eric deBues, who featured in the paper only last week, as the hero grandfather who thwarted a thief. Bob Andrews from category sponsor BMW presented the award.
Star of the Community was John Holden, who has dedicated his life to the RNLI since he was saved from drowning at the age of 14 and is now in his 60th year of fundraising. Worthing mayor Alex Harman presented the award.
Health Hero was the League of Friends of Southlands Hospital, which carries out vital work raising funds for equipment and has now set up in a new facility in the eye care centre, having been moved from its long-standing cafê earlier this year.
Care in the Community winner was Sue Smith, a devoted volunteer with West Sussex County Council’s Fun and Breaks service who has proved an invaluable help to an Angmering family. Christine Boxall from category sponsor Guardian Angel Carers presented the award.
Mini Hero winner was Maisie de Montfort, an inspiring teenager who raised more than £3,000 towards her friends' wheelchairs, 'all by herself, from start to finish'.
The final award, the Herald and Gazette Award for Special Achievement, went to the most deserving candidate who had proved popular with voters but had missed out on a prize.
The winner was Joshua Freeman, Nathan's twin, who was nominated by his mother as he became a carer from a very early age and has put his own interests on hold in order to support his brother over the years, without complaint or resentment.
Thank you so much to everyone who took the trouble to make a nomination and to vote. Look out for next year's awards, which will launch in the the new year.