ANYONE with an interest in scriptwriting or storytelling will sooner or later come across Joseph Campbell. Back in 1949, he wrote a book called The Hero With A Thousand Faces, which argued that mythology, wherever in the world it was from, followed the same story structure. Campbell’s work became hugely influential, particularly after George Lucas used the theories as the basis for Star Wars. It might have been science-fiction, but in essence, the story was an old one: A (Jedi) knight with a sword (or lightsaber) rescuing a princess from the clutches of a dark knight in his castle (or Death Star).

I was reminded of Campbell’s book this week with the announcement of the latest winners of the Salisbury Journal/Spire FM Local Hero Awards. Heroes come in many guises, from parents to teachers, children to charity-workers. Rather than Jedi knights rescuing princesses on space stations, these are real-life heroes like Alastair Kett, administering CPR on a commuter train, or PC Matt Bennett, putting his own life at risk to help others after an air crash at Boscombe Down. It’s fantastic that individuals such as Alastair or Matt can be recognised in this way. But while it’s great for Salisbury to celebrate their achievements, it’s also important as a community not to feel apart from them, or that we cannot contribute ourselves. It’s very easy to read the exploits of a remarkable individual and think: ‘I’m glad to have such people around, but I could never do something like that myself.’ ‘You can be a hero,’ sang the Grange Hill Kids in their 1980s hit, Just Say No. ‘Be who you are.’ The Grange Hill Kids are right: We might not all be born great or have greatness thrust upon us, but in our own small ways, we all have the capacity to be heroic.

Earlier this month, for example, a survey for Age UK revealed that there are more than half a million people in the UK over 60 who spend their days completely alone, and a further half a million people over 60 who do not see or speak to anyone for five to six days a week. If there is one of this missing million living down your street, why not knock on the door and say hello? It would be a small thing for you to do, but might be a big deal for them.

Heroes, as Joseph Campbell wrote, have a thousand faces. With a thousand small gestures to tackle an issue like loneliness, we could all be part of something heroic together.

Follow Tom on Twitter @bromleyesq.