Inside the spacious West London studio where HELLO!'s Star Women 2020 judges have gathered, excitement fills the air. As one of the judges, Anita Rani, puts it: "This is magic! It's like there's a giddy, fizzy atmosphere because we are doing a photoshoot, which we haven't done for ages. It's so good to be here."
Joining Anita are TV presenter Lorraine Kelly, radio and TV star Vick Hope, broadcaster Kate Silverton and HELLO! editor-in-chief Rosie Nixon. And while they are all enjoying being made-up and posing for the camera, they also know there is a serious task at hand: whittling down the nominees in HELLO!'s Star Mum award, in association with leading luxury childrenswear retailer Childrensalon, from ten to five finalists. The final winners will be selected by our readers.
WATCH: How the final five nominees were chosen by our celebrity panel
This year's ceremony, our third Star Women awards, will be a digital event and will once again be hosted by Kate, who will also offer commentary during video presentations to honour each winner.
Talking about this year's event, Rosie says: "It was such a shame that we were unable to host our annual live Star Women Awards in June, but in this extraordinary year it's even more important to use our platforms at HELLO! to shine the spotlight on some true stars who have proven themselves to be selfless beacons of kindness and positivity despite the challenges they have faced."
Vick and Kate were moved by the nominees' stories
Deciding between the nominees is a tough job. "All these women are amazing and brilliant in their own field, powerful and empowered and warm and kind," says Anita. "I don't know how I am going to choose who is more deserving than the other. "
Rosie adds: "These awards are not about pitting women against one another to decide who is best, it is about simply recognising something extraordinary in an individual. I wish we could give prizes to them all."
The Star Mum award honours mothers who, while raising their family, still find the time to help others in need. It also focuses on women who may have overcome remarkable personal challenges. As Kate says: "Motherhood is universal and the qualities I am looking for here are compassion, empathy and strength, wisdom and kindness. The entries espouse these qualities by the bucketload."
And now it's time for you, our readers, to cast your vote. Simply read the stories below then scroll down to where you can vote for your favourite nominee.
Diagnosed with breast cancer eight years ago aged 38, and after a mastectomy, mum of three Sam wanted to help fellow sufferers thrive. She gave up teaching to set up Sam's Diamonds, a group reaching more than 175 women with cancer in the Northwest. Full of fighting spirit, she runs Samurai Judo Club and enters beauty contests, inspiring others post treatment.
"If I could talk, I would tell you how proud I am of my Mama," writes Abigail, 21 – born with cerebral palsy – assisted by her carers. Mum Tara, 45, is a specialist children's nurse and works for charity WellChild. In the pandemic she has worked for the NHS in kids' mental health, as well as organising friends to make PPE – all while making time for daughter Abigail.
Helping others in South West London during the pandemic, mum of five Syebvonne, 41, has made PPE and fabric face masks for key workers. She has a pop-up in her garden, so locals can take a mask for a donation, and fundraises so that disadvantaged pupils can get masks. "She has inspired a feel-good effect in our communities," says friend Susan Tomlinson.
Karen, 55, a mum of three and grandma, has two long-term foster kids with autism. In the pandemic, she led volunteers to make scrubs for hospital staff in Liverpool, using her own money to buy fabric, then raising funds to keep the supply going – despite her own health problems. "It would be wonderful to see her recognised for all she does for others,” says her friend Elaine Green.
Known for her "vision and fighting attitude", mum of four Soraya, 51, runs #UniteForYouth to divert young people in Wales away from drugs and violence and support their mental health using sport, education and paid work or training. Diagnosed with grade 3 breast cancer three years ago, her campaign The Gloves Are On promotes early detection.