SINCE we launched the Lancashire Telegraph Schools Awards this category has quickly become one of the most popular. Every year we receive terrific stories about people who make life better in so many ways for both the pupils of East Lancashire and the wider community.

We’ve heard about outstanding lollipop ladies, caretakers, teaching assistants and volunteers. Last year’s winner was Les Ince who at 73-years-old was working at Darwen Aldridge Community Academy as a counsellor.

The judges singled him out for the award after hearing how he had taken up counselling in his fifties – after a varied career working as a mechanic, taxi driver and musician – to help pupils aged from 11-19 with their issues ranging from bullying and relationship break-ups to bulimia and self harm at the school.

“He is quietly supporting those most in need. He has the ability to dramatically alter someone’s self image, the way they feel, how they deal with a situation or even the trajectory of their life,” said DACA’s assistant principal Michelle Billington when he was nominated.

A spokesman for sponsor BAE Systems said:“BAE Systems is proud to support the Lancashire Telegraph School Awards which recognise the achievements of those people who do so much to promote education across our county.

“In our own business, we have teams of people dedicate to bringing talent through our award-winning apprenticeship and graduate schemes as well as providing through-life development for our 10,000-strong workforce.

“Many people like this go above and beyond the call of duty to ensure people fulfil their potential and the Unsung Hero Award category recognises such people. We hope our sponsorship of this award category will put the spotlight on these people and help inspire more people to follow in their footsteps.”

Nomination forms can be downloaded from