THE PARALYMPIC spirit was alive today (Tuesday, February 26) when the achievements of disabled sporting heroes were praised at an awards ceremony.

The North East Disability Awards, hosted by Tyne Tees news presenter Ian Payne, recognised the dedication and hard work of participants, coaches and clubs across the region.

Over 140 guests attended the celebration at The Durham Centre, in Durham City - including three-times Paralympic champion Stephen Miller, who watched six sports awards being presented.

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Jean Lordon, executive director of Tees Valley Sport said: “These awards are a fantastic way to celebrate the successes of our disabled sports stars in the North-East, particularly so soon after the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

“The awards are also a great opportunity to acknowledge some of the excellent work that clubs, organisations and volunteers do in the region.”

It was organised by the regional County Sports Partnerships, supported by the English Federation of Disability Sport and sponsors D&P Trophies, Future Sport, House of Type, Metro Rod North East and Transforming Culture.

Tees Rowing Club at Stockton was named club of the year after it became the leading club for adaptive rowing in the North-East, with 10 athletes now taking part.

Female personality of the year, dressage rider Gayle Bloomfield, 42, of Seahouses, Northumberland said: “When I get on a horse I just feel free. It is an amazing feeling.

“I have had a totally brilliant year.” 

Young female achiever Stephanie Moore, 18, of Blaydon, who runs with the Chester-le-Street and District Athletics Club, said: “Getting this award is the highlight of my year.

“I am in cloud nine and am looking ahead to 2013 to get more achievements.

“For now I am focusing on the world championships in Prague in June. But I know Rio is always going to in my head.”

Young male achiever Joseph Craig, 16, of Jarrow, who scooped Gold in the 400 freestyle at the Paralympics said: “I am overjoyed with this award.

"I have a warm feeling of pride in my heart, because I see everybody who still support me, so long after the games – and still recognised me for what I have done.

“2012 was the biggest moment in my life and I will always rejoice it, but I am now focussed on the future.”

The winners are: 

Female Personality: Dressage rider Gayle Bloomfield, 42, of Seahouses, Northumberland, who had successful year in 2012 and including an invitation to the Para International in Hong Kong where she finished 5th.

Male Personality: Wheelchair basketball player Terry Bywater, 29, of Middlesbrough, who was selected for the Paralympics and played in all games in London 2012. He top scored for GB.

Young Female Achiever: Athlete Stephanie Moore, 18, of Blaydon, Gateshead, who represented Great Britain at the World Indoor Championships and European Championships, as well as the Learning Disability National Championships. At the national championships she set a new 100m personal best of 13.34 seconds to win the gold medal and also secured a bronze medal in the 200m.

Young Male Achiever: Swimmer Josef Craig, 16, of Jarrow, who is the Paralympic gold medallist in the 400m freestyle S7 and won BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year 2012.

Club of the Year Award: Tees Rowing Club.

Service to Sport Award: Liz Starrs & Glynis Hansen who have been involved in Hartlepool Sportability Club since it was founded 25 years ago; ensuring that disabled people in Hartlepool who want to play sport can do so.