THREE recipients of unsung hero awards will be honoured for making a difference in their communities at a ceremony in Taunton next week.

The Christmas Sparkle Project, Hazel Reed and Jenny Dilley will pick up their Citizenship Awards at the event at the Cooper Associates County Ground on Tuesday evening.

They were the stand out entries from 11 nominations in the competition run by Taunton Deane Borough Council in conjunction with local Rotary clubs.

A donation of £100 each will also be made to a charity of their choice.

Taunton Deane Cllr Catherine Herbert said: "The Citizenship Awards give well deserved recognition to the groups and individuals who do such outstanding voluntary work in our community.

"They devote so much of their time and energy to a high number of causes. It’s an honour to learn about the work they do which is appreciated by so many. I would like to thank them all for their enthusiasm and dedication."

The Christmas Sparkle Project aims to give local children living in difficult circumstances a present from Santa on Christmas Day. The charity is run by Gillian Harrison, of Taunton, and Candice Thompson-Gardiner, of Wellington, who work in partnership with schools and other agencies that support families in need. They all collect brand new gifts, which are wrapped and delivered to more than 1,000 children and young people every year. There are also collection points in Taunton and Wellington so members of the public can donate too. The Christmas Sparkle Project has nominated The Samaritans to receive its winning donation.

Hazel Reed from Taunton is known by many for her voluntary care of the elderly – giving car rides, and looking after their gardens and pets. She has been the piano accompanist for the Taunton Deane Male Voice Choir for 16 years and regularly visits sick members to carry out kind deeds. Hazel is a voluntary worker at lunches organised by the Salvation Army and is captain of the Neroche Hand Bell Ringers who perform at local care homes and community group meetings. She also plays the piano at Taunton Baptist Church and Musgrove Park Hospital for the Sunday morning services. Hazel’s nominated charity is the Taunton Team Chaplaincy.

Jenny Dilley has been the key volunteer for Walk Well in Wellington since its launch more than eight years ago following the success of the Taunton programme that was set up to encourage residents to take part in walks across the borough. Jenny has given many hours supporting the group and its volunteers, leading the walks, discovering new routes, and assessing risks. There are now four walks a week in the Wellington area. Jenny set up a lunch group giving walkers an additional opportunity to meet outside of the walks for lunch, and longer days out, where she encourages lift sharing to ensure everyone can attend. Jenny is also responsible, along with other volunteers, for the extensive social calendar, which includes trips to the theatre and cinema, curry nights and skittles matches. Jenny has chosen the charity Plan International to receive her £100 donation.