Children who have shown exceptional kindness to animals and scientists who have helped improved animal welfare are sought for the 2016 RSPCA honours.

Nominations close on 1 January and can be made online for the first time.

“The honours are a chance to say thank you for the very special people out there who go above and beyond to make life better for animals,” said Dr James Yeates, chief veterinary officer.

“We love reading through the nominations, some of them are very courageous, humbling and inspiring.”

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A committee looks at every entry before deciding on the winners of each category.

The Founders award rewards individuals and organisations for their outstanding contribution to animal welfare.

The Sir Patrick Moore award is given for outstanding contribution to animal welfare science.

The William Wilberforce award is for an individual or organisation who has worked to further the link between human and animal welfare.

The young person award will be presented to an under 16-year-old who has shown outstanding dedication to animals.

The local and national media award is given to a journalist, broadcaster or media organisation for reporting that contributes to the field of animal welfare.

There are also awards for services to European animal welfare and special investigation award for an individual or organisation that has undertaken investigative work to expose animal cruelty.

The winners will receive their awards at a ceremony at The Law Society in London on 2 April 2016.

Queen Victoria Medals will also be presented to RSPCA members or volunteers in recognition of their long service and hard work.

Last year’s award winners included Lorraine Carey who raised £5,500 for the RSPCA by climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, skydiving over Las Vegas and swimming Lake Windermere.

Lorraine decided to raise money for the RSPCA after the charity rescued three stranded horses found chest deep in freezing water following a storm surge in Winteringham where she lived.

To make a nomination visit: www.rspca.org.uk/getinvolved/honours