A MAJOR York employer is supporting The Press's Community Pride awards and calling on people to put their local heroes forward for the recognition they deserve.

Insurance giant Aviva are the sponsors behind the Volunteer of the Year category at this year's Community Pride awards.

The firm, which employs more 2000 people in the city, has thrown its weight behind the award as a way of honouring the unsung heroes who make a difference to the city.

The company's Angela Darlington said: "As a major employer in the area, Aviva is fully committed to supporting the local community. We're proud to be sponsoring the Volunteer Of The Year category again in 2014, which is all about recognising those who have shown real energy, enthusiasm and commitment to making a difference to their community."

Last year, Ms Darlington represented Aviva at the Community Pride gala awards ceremony in October and presented the Volunteer of the Year award to inspirational Colin Lea, who has been a dedicated volunteer for the British Red Cross and Scouting for the last 30 years.

Aviva encourages its own employees to volunteer in the local community, offering them 21 hours paid leave each year to encourage them to get involved in the community.

Ms Darlington added: "We’re proud that our employees give so much time to volunteering”

Already this year the award has attracted some inspirational nominations from people keen to see those they know recognised for their selfless dedication to others.

Among them is Acomb resident Maria Bewers who has been nominated for her work running the family room at York City Football Club for the last 16 years.

Also in the category Barbara Anderson who volunteers for Safe and Sound Homes (SASH) and opens her home to young people facing homelessness.

In addition, York resident Maureen O'Hare has also been put forward for braving hail and snow to attend meetings as chairman or secretary of residents' associations around Walmgate and Navigation Road for the past 18 years.

Volunteer of the Year is one of 13 categories in the Community Pride awards, and recognises an individual who gives freely and unselfishly of his or her time to help others.

For more information on the Community Pride awards, which are sponsored by Benenden Health, or to make a nomination go to yorkpress.co.uk/pride

Nominations can also be sent to Paula Homer, PA to the editor, The Press, 76-86 Walmgate, York YO1 9YN before Friday, July 18 with details including a supporting statement of no more than two sides of A4 with each nomination. You may also include a picture, which unfortunately we will be unable to return.