THE biggest event in grassroots sport in the North-East and North Yorkshire will take place tonight.

Click here to follow the awards live online from 6.30pm tonight

The Northern Echo’s Local Heroes awards, now in their 13th year, celebrate sport in our region from the elite level to the grassroots, with ten categories recognising dedication, commitment and success.

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About 1,000 guests will be at Hardwick Hall, in Sedgefield, County Durham, to see the winners revealed, before Northern Echo editor Peter Barron reveals the overall Local Hero for 2012.

Last year’s champion was Durham Wildcats basketball head coach Dave Elderkin.

Mr Barron said it was extremely difficult to choose from such a strong list of entrants.

He said: “The judging panel sat at the start of last month and it was tough to come up with the various category winners, never mind the overall Local Hero.

“The entries we receive seem to get stronger every year, and the scope of this year’s shortlist just underlines what the Local Heroes Awards are all about.

“We have got Olympic and Paralympic champions in the running for awards, as well as unsung heroes who have devoted their entire lives to grassroots sport with little or no recognition. This is their chance to shine, and we are looking forward to a fantastic night with its usual share of tears, emotion and drama.”

This year’s ceremony will have an Olympic and Paralympic theme, and a large number of the region’s Olympic and Paralympic competitors will be present.

Gold medal-winning rower Kat Copeland, from Stokesley, North Yorkshire, and silvermedal winning three-dayeventer Nicola Wilson, from Morton-on-Swale, near Northallerton, North Yorkshire, will be guests of honour and help present some of the awards.

Great Britain Olympic football duo Steph Houghton and Jason Steele, Olympic trampolinist Kat Driscoll and Commonwealth Games gold medallist Johanna Jackson are also expected to attend, along with Paralympic gold medallist Josef Craig, who was this summer’s youngest British champion.

The Local Heroes Awards support the work of sporting charity Future Sport, and thanks to a partnership with the County Durham Community Foundation, up to £10,000 will be donated to charity after a rowing challenge that has been arranged with the help of rowing machine manufacturer Concept2.