THE STERLING efforts by ordinary people to make a difference to their communities have been recognised by the High Sheriff of Oxfordshire.

At a ceremony in Christ Church on Monday night, 26 individuals from across the county received High Sheriff awards for their remarkable achievements.

With participants aged from 18 to 93 and sectors represented including charity, sports, social enterprise and the prison service,

Opening the evening, incumbent High Sheriff Tom Birch Reynardson said: "It's an enormous privilege for me to be here, giving awards to some very special people.

"I am enormously grateful to everyone in the county for the huge efforts they make to make our society a more civilised one."

Particular emphasis was placed by Mr Reynardson - whose 'Getting Court' scheme educating teenagers about the justice system was launched last summer - on recipients that worked to tackle crime as well as magistrates and prison officers.

He said: "Youth crime is a huge issue in England and certain parts of Oxfordshire, and it's through the efforts of people in their communities that differences can be made."

Among this year's winners was Jean Hollins, whose work for the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal in Woodstock led to takings of £283,929.79 over fourteen years.

Others praised for going the extra mile were Aspire Oxford worker Jamie Hamilton and Oxford Combined Courts security guard Nigel Hobbs.

Flying the flag for the younger generation were 18-year-old Sarah Davies, who instigated an annual 'Pink Day' for cancer research at Matthew Arnold School, and Damascus Youth Project worker Gary Hibbins, who was "looked up to" by other young people struggling with issues such as sexual abuse and substance misuse.

Following the awards ceremony the Dean of Christ Church College, Martyn Percy, recalled a quote from Albert Einstein: "Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts."

He added: "These people stand up and they are counted, and they don't just lead, they educate. It's by example that they change the hearts and minds of society around them.

"These people transform and change society by their hard work, endeavour, entrepreneurship and above all their character."

Lord Lieutenant of Oxfordshire Tim Stevenson OBE said the work of some of the 26 "beggared belief" and supported "many of the most fortunate in our communities".

He said: "Of 83 neighbourhoods in Oxfordshire, ten are amongst the 20 per cent most deprived across the whole of the country. Against that background it's very much my privilege on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen to thank all those who have won awards this evening for the contribution they have made, which is absolutely invaluable."