For details on how to contact our editorial and commercial departments, click here
Local Heroes Awards
Updated 11:21am Friday 6th December 2013 in News
Enable automatic updates every 30 seconds? YES NO
That's all folks. Another inspirational evening. Congratulations to all the nominees and winners.
10:11pm Thu 5 Dec 13
Site arcs says
So proud of Teacher Andy Bell and St Leonard's Football Team
77-year-old Charlie Donaghy, the winner of the overall Local Hero award for 2013, pledged his £500 prize money to the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.
He has fulfilled numerous grass roots roles over the past decade and showed characteristic humility in accepting the main honour of the evening.
He said: "When you hear some of the stories and achievements of the winners and nominees tonight, you almost feel embarrassed to be given the overall award.
"When my wife died, I could have sat in the kitchen looking at the wall, or watching daytime television.
"So I made myself useful. To have won an award like this, well, it's more than a bonus.
"The stories that have come out tonight, it is clear that there are some wonderful things happening in grass roots sport in this part of the world."
Mr Donaghy has attended all but two Local Heroes evenings since the awards began 14 years ago.
he added: "Because of the economic climate in recent years, some sports have gone down in numbers at grass roots level.
"It is events like Local Heroes that keep grass roots sport in the spotlight, long may it continue."
Charlie Donaghy, Local Hero of 2013, and Charlie's Angels!
The wonderful Charlie Donaghy!
And the winner is...
The judges argued long and hard and it was an extremely close call. There were worthy winners in every category of course...but the judges were swayed by someone who epitomises what these awards are all about. Someone who lives and breathes grass roots sport. Someone who oils the wheels. If it wasn’t for him, a number of leagues would simply grind to a halt. Even when he was laying in his hospital bed, he was still organising, still working out scores and league standings, still keeping things going, and expecting nothing in return...
So all that remains is to name the overall Local Hero for 2013...
Fundraising Champions Award
Earlier this year, the fantastic Phoenix House Recovery Centre opened at Catterick to help injured soldiers coming back from war zones such as Afghanistan. The centre is supported through Help For Heroes and, to raise money for that charity, a team of 15 wounded, injured or sick serving soldiers and veterans, along with eight of the centre’s support staff, cycled 457 miles from Edinburgh to London in just six days. They helped to raise £1m and some of them are here tonight.
Our first Fundraising Champions Award goes to the Help For Heroes team from Phoenix House!
Congratulations to St Leonard's Catholic School U14s Football Team from Hummerknott Academy #localheroes13— @smollie206 05 December 2013
And so to the Outstanding Performance of the Year, sponsored by Teesside University
And the winner is...
There are no finalists in this category - just a single choice by the judges. The award goes to a veterinary surgeon from Durham, who took up rowing in 2005 and at the age of 55 achieved success at local, national and world level. Indoors, she has set two new world records in the 55-59 years age category and claimed the English and Irish Indoor titles. Outdoors, she won the double sculls event at Durham regatta and claimed three gold medals at the British Masters regatta. She won gold in her age category at the Henley Regatta and claimed five gold medals in her age group at the World Masters Regatta in Italy. The very worthy winner of the Outstandng Performance Award for 2013 is...Gill Prescott.
Again, three great teams but the winners are...St Leonard’s Catholic School Under-14s Football Team
Yes laddsss!!!! Winners of team of the year #sohappy #careyed #localheroes13— @james73wilson 05 December 2013
And the winner is...
Thirteen-year-old taekwondo competitor Simone Abley, from Spennymoor, is the winner of the most promising new talent award.
She was 'overwhelmed, but happy' to have won and is taking a break from competing but still trains twice a week in Doncaster.
CONGRATS TO @SimAbley on winning the Northern Echo Most Promising Young Athlete! #localheroes13— @ConsettScorpion 05 December 2013
And so to the Junior Award for the Team or Club of the Year, sponsored by Hummersknott Academy
Our first finalist is Laurence Jackson Under-16s Girls Football Team: This team have been together right through secondary school and have achieved considerable success for a number of years. This year’s Redcar and Cleveland Schools League title was their fifth in succession, meaning they have triumphed in every secondary school year. However, this year, they achieved success on a national level when they won nine fixtures to reach the final of the English Schools FA Cup. They lost 3-2 in a thrilling final to a team from Reading but to reach the final was a fantastic achievement.
St Leonard’s Catholic School Under-14s Football Team: This school team, from Durham City, completed an impressive treble when they won a national title by claiming the English Schools’ FA Premier league Cup at Hillsborough in May. They beat St Ignatius College, of Enfield, 2-1 in the final with goals from James Moore and Elliott Embleton. The success followed hot on the heels of two previous triumphs, with St leonard’s Under-14s also claiming the Chester-le-Street and Washington Schools’ District League and the Consett Ironworks Cup.
And then comes Yarm School Rugby Team who became the most successful side in the school’s illustrious history when they won the Daily Mail RBS Vase, easily the most prestigious schools rugby tournament in the country, and usually the preserve of schools in the south. Having progressed through a number of competitive rounds to reach the final, Yarm travelled to Twickenham to take on Felsted School. They triumphed in a close final to cap an unforgettable season. Their star player was Zach Kibirige, an England youth international, who has subsequently signed his first professional contract with Newcastle Falcons.
Another very tough choice but the winner is Simone Abley
And the winner is...
Award For Most Promising New Talent, jointly sponsored by our headline sponsors tonight, Bishop Auckland College and Darlington College
Hugo Lutz-Atkinson: Hugo is 11, and from Kiln Pit Hill, near Consett. He has been riding a bike since his first birthday and entered his first competition at the age of six. He is ranked ninth nationally in the GB under-12 rankings and is the youngest of anyone in the top ten. This year, he won a gold in the Virgin Money Cyclone event in Newcastle and a silver in the Stockton Cycling Festival. In August, he competed in Spain in a Spanish regional youth league and then beat the reigning regional champion to win gold in the San Juan Alicante Regional Championships. Muy bien! (bit of Spanish there)
Aimee Barlow: Amy is from Sedgefield and, despite only being 11, is already competing in the under-13 category for athletics. In the last 12 months, she has been runner-up in the Gateshead Winter Indoor Series despite being the youngest competitor, and won the Outdoor Young Athletes League. She has achieved ten UK rankings in sprints, middle distance and jumps and also competed in the shot putt. At the County Durham Schools Track and Field Championships, Aimee broke the 800 metres track record at Shildon Stadium for her age group as she won the gold. She also won the triple jump and short sprint titles on the same day.
And finally we have Simone Abley: Simone is 13 and from Spennymoor. She competes in taekwondo at national and international level. A member of Scorpion Taekwondo, she is the number one ranked female under-59kg for her age in the whole of Europe. She qualified for the European Championships in Romania but suffered a leg injury two weeks before the tournament. She won her quarter-final despite a recurrence of the injury but refused to give in and suffered a narrow defeat in the semis. In September, she bounced back like a true champion to win gold at the British National Championships.
Cricket wonderkid Matthew Fisher, from Huby, near York, made headlines earlier in the year as the youngest player to represent Yorkshire at first-class level since the Second World War.
Tipped as a star of the future, the 15-year-old is the recipent of tonight's Junior Award for Sporting Excellence.
Matthew is away training in the UAE with England Under 19s, so can't be here tonight. Scott Wilson caught up with him before he departed.
Matthew told Scottt that making his Yorkshire debut was a highlight of his year and vowed to 'keep working hard' in the forthcoming season - and at his GCSEs.
Three undoubted stars of the future. The winner is...Matthew Fisher
Cricketing prodigy Matthew Fisher wins the Junior Sporting Excellence Award at #LocalHeroes13. An Ashes hero of the future surely?— @RightLinesComms 05 December 2013
And the winner is...
OK, back to the awards and next comes the Junior Award for Sporting Excellence, in partnership with County Durham Community Foundation
Hannah Featherstone: Hannah is 14 and a talented swimmer from Billingham. She swims for Sedgefield 75 Swimming Club and, earlier this year, she became the club’s first national champion for 15 years. Hannah took gold in the 100 metres freestyle at the National Championships at Sheffield. She was selected as part of the British team for the European Youth Olympic Festival in Utrecht and claimed two silvers and a bronze in the team events. An all-round performer, Hannah also competes in athletics and recently represented Great Britain in the modern pentathlon.
Amy Tinkler: Amy is 13 and from Bishop Auckland. Amy won the Most Promising New Talent category at the Local Heroes Awards in 2011 and, since then, her career has gone from strength to strength. The last 12 months has seen her establish herself as one of the brightest young talents in British gymnastics and she is firmly on track to be a Team GB Olympian. In January, she achieved the greatest success of her career so far when she won three gold medals at the Youth Olympic festival in Australia, with team silver and individual gold on the floor, and silver in the vault. Amy followed up at the Junior British Championships, where she won golds in the floor and bar, silver in the vault, bronze in the beam and silver overall.
Matthew Fisher: Mathew is 15 and from Huby in North Yorkshire. Earlier this year, Matthew created sporting history when he became the youngest post-war cricketer to represent Yorkshire in a first-team game. His remarkable season began in May when he was selected for Yorkshire’s second team, despite being still at school. He took 6 for 25 for the seconds in June and later that month was promoted to the first team. He was awarded his county cap by England international Jonny Bairstow and took a wicket on his debut. He was selected for England Under-19s in August and made his debut despite being only 15.
Junior Remarkable Achievement Award nominee, Cobie Woods, helped raise money for Future Sport. With a treadmill linked to five lights, each light worth £1,000 to Future Sport, Cobie ran his heart out to light all five raising £5,000 to help kids play sport.
Cobie Woods is definitely my hero!!! #Localheroes13— @BethRBryan 05 December 2013
Junior remarkable achievement winner Chloe Hunt, from Sowerby, near Thirsk, said she was 'really proud' to have won the Junior Remarkable Achievement Award.
She was starved of oxygen at birth and wasn't expected to survive her first night, but has confounded medics.
At 13, she joined a special needs gym club in Middlesbrough, where she flourished.
Her delighted mum, Michelle, said: "We never thought she would win this."
FA Vase-winning Spennymoor Town FC saw off competition from Apollo Trampolining Club and Durham University's all-conquering rugby team to scoop the team of the year award.
Manager Jason Ainsley dedicated the award to the club's players and fans.
He said: "We were up against some seriously talented competition in this category.
"Some of the lads were confident of a win, but when we heard about what the others have done, you can't be over-confident.
"To be successful in a category with so much achievement in it, is great for the club and tops off a fantastic year for Spennymoor Town."
Three great stories, three admirable young people, but the winner is the young lady they said would never walk again but emerged as a gymnastics champion...Chloe Hunt
9.32pm @chloeh_xxx worthy winner and truly remarkable story #localheroes13 http://t.co/1wbiN2GwTs— @kingstuy 05 December 2013
And the winner is...
The last award before the break is the first of our junior awards, The Junior Remarkable Achievement Award, sponsored by Tees Active
Cobie Woods: Cobie is six and from St Helen Auckland. A keen footballer with St Mary’s Under-7s, Cobie was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia in February. This required an intensive six-month treatment programme at the RVI in Newcastle. He had chemotherapy, lumbar punctures and eight blood transfusions. While he was in hospital, St Mary’s promised to keep his place in the team open for him and this helped him get through his treatment. Despite having his central line still taped to his chest, he returned to the field in October and scored in his first game. He was man of the match in his next game and settled back into the team like he’d never been away.
Chloe Hunt: Chloe is 15 and from Sowerby in North Yorkshire. She was brain-damaged at birth after being starved of oxygen. She wasn’t expected to survive her first night but she battled on and eventually left hospital. She was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, Erbs palsy, ADHD and later autism. At four, she was told she would never walk again and her sporting options were limited because she needed a wheelchair. But at 13 she joined a special needs gymnastics club in Middlesbrough and has flourished. In August, she won five golds at the Special Olympics National Summer Games in Bath, triumphing in the beam, bars, vaults, floor and overall performance.
Jack Baines: Jack is 12 and from Darlington. Sadly, and without going into too much detail, Jack has had a really difficult childhood. Both his mum and dad have suffered from serious health problems and Jack has often been the one to rise to the occasion, ringing for ambulances, and looking after his siblings. However, throughout it all, he has continued to turn up and play for his local football team in Darlington, and compete for Darlington Harriers athletics club. This year, he was voted Sports Personality of the Year at Carmel School.
Three teams for the North-East to be proud of but the winners are, brace yourselves for a lot of noise, FA Vase winners Spennymoor Town Football Club
Trampoline star Kat Driscoll, from Washington, was bouncing for joy at winning in the Senior Sporting Excellence category.
The most successful British trampolinist of all time paid tributes to the other nominees, rower Beth Bryan and cricketer Danielle Hazell.
Kat is preparing for a packed winter of training and competing.
And the winner is...
Next is the Senior Award for Team or Club of the Year, sponsored by Tees Barrage
First we have the Apollo Trampolining Club: The most successful trampolining club in the North East and arguably England. Based at Washington, Apollo has had a remarkable year. At elite level, the club has had two trampolinists selected for the world championships in Bulgaria, and of course, Kat Driscoll, struck gold at the World Games. The club has had three members attend the junior national squad and had one of its coaches selected to coach with them. They claimed a gold and silver at the British championships and, at the Northern Championships, they won the team trophy for the sixth year in a row.
Next we have Spennymoor Town Football Club: Spennymoor enjoyed the most successful season in their history, winning an unprecedented treble. The club claimed the JR Cleator Cup and the League Cup but their greatest triumph came at Wembley. Roared on by around 8,000 fans, Spenny lifted the FA Vase after beating Tunbridge Wells in the final. As a club, Spennymoor are truly at the heart of their community and have invested significantly to transform their Brewery Field ground into a genuine community asset.
Finally, we have Durham University Rugby First Team: The team has enjoyed one of the most successful seasons in the university’s history. They were crowned Northern Premiership league champions for the third year in succession, and claimed the BUCS Cup - the most important trophy in university sport - in a thrilling victory over Cardiff Metropolitan University at Twickenham. They were named University Rugby Club of the Year by Rugby World.
Durham cricket coach Geoff Cook, winner of the Leading Light award, says tonight's event is a testimony to the many people who volunteer in grass roots sport.
He described his award, which comes several months after his heart attack, as a 'humbling honour'.
Three all round good eggs, the embodiment of what these awards are all about...but there has to be a winner...and the winner is Charlie Donaghy
And the winner is...
Next we have the Unsung Hero Award, sponsored by BMI Woodland Hospital
We start with Charlie Donaghy: Charlie is 77 and it is no exaggeration to say that several grass roots leagues simply wouldn’t function without him. He is the fixture secretary, results organiser, administrator, press officer and committee organiser for leagues in snooker, darts, pool, dominoes, quoits and bowls. Tom Ward who nominated Charlie, cited the example of the Langley Moor District Snooker League, saying: “I know for a fact this league would not continue without Charlie’s work because no one else will do the time-consuming, unglamorous things he does.” Charlie had a serious health scare recently but continued to perform his grass roots sport duties from his hospital bed and, after being told he had to lose three stones, he gained sponsorship for every pound he lost and donated it to the Sir Bobby Robson Cancer Foundation.
Next comes Bob Tinkler: Bob is 88 and from Chester-le-Street. He was introduced to athletics in 1962 and has been a volunteer with him home-town club ever since. He has provided more than five decades of service with his club and across the region. He has held a wide variety of roles, from committee member and events organiser to fundraiser and representative on national bodies. He was secretary for Elswick harriers for a large number of years and technical officer at national track and cross-country fixtures. As a founder of Chester-le-Street Athletics Club, he championed the development of the community track-and-field facilities which are now hugely popular.
And Andy Burgess: Andy is 47 and comes from Crook. As well as being first-team captain for Crook Cricket Club, he has volunteered for a number of roles that have been vital to the club’s survival through very difficult times. He has served on the committee, acted as junior team manager, overseen the coaching programme, worked on ground maintenance, helped out behind the bar, worked as an unpaid cleaner and served as the club’s county liaison officer. As if that wasn’t enough, he has developed strong links with local schools.
So hard to pick a winner...but the winner had to be recognised sooner or later for all he's done. One of the region’s real gentleman of sport, Geoff Cook.
First winner of the night Paul Conway, of Stockton, who has won National Riding for the Disabled (NRA) titles, said: "It is unbelievable to have won, I thought one of the other nominees, the soldier, would get it.
"I can't thank the NRA enough, they have turned my disability into an adventure."
And the winner is...
Next we come to the Sir Bobby Robson Leading Light Award, sponsored by Virgin Money, and recognising those who guide, pioneer, and inspire
Our first finalist is Bill Ruffell: Bill is 79 and has been playing tennis since he was 18. After joining the Merchant Navy, he returned to the North-East to work as a miner at Westoe Colliery. While working down the pit, he was instrumental in establishing colliery welfare tennis courts and has now been involved in the sport for more than 60 years. A well-known face on the North-East tennis scene, he has worked in various roles at Boldon Tennis Club and was the driving force behind the creation of the Sunderland tennis Centre, a facility which has earned national recognition.
Alister Robson: Alister is 41, and from Brandon. Having attended his first park run at Sunderland in 2010, Alister fell in love with the concept of community running. After attending a number of Sunderland park runs, he decided to set up a Durham park run, which proved an instant success. UK park run manager, Tom Williams, was so impressed with Alister's efforts that he appointed him North-East Ambassador for Park Run. This involves him coordinating the organisation of the region's 15 park runs – five of which are in County Durham – liaising with landowners and councils and arranging fund raising, all of which takes up 40 hours of voluntary work a month. The average event attendance for the North-East's park runs is 1,691 runners each weekend.
Geoff Cook: Geoff is, of course, head coach of Durham County Cricket Club and has been instrumental in the remarkable success story at the Riverside, serving as the club's first county captain. However, it is his commitment to cricket at the grass roots that has earned Geoff this nomination. He spent the best part of a decade running Durham's academy, helping to turn the likes of Paul Collingwood and Steve Harmison into England heroes. Earlier this year, he suffered a heart attack which forced him to step down from first-team duties but, three weeks later, he was back coaching Durham’s Under-18s. He has maintained strong links with the local leagues and constantly champions junior cricket.
Three real stars and it was an extremely close call - but the winner will be bouncing to the stage - the most successful British trampolinist in history, Kat Driscoll
And the winner is...
Our next category is the Senior Award For Sporting Excellence, sponsored by Darlington Building Society
Danielle Hazell: Danielle is 25 and comes from Durham. As a teenager, Danielle began to play cricket because she enjoyed watching her dad play for Bearpark. She played for Durham City and steadily worked her way into the women’s national set-up, becoming one of the country’s leading women’s players. She was a beaten finalist with England in last year’s World Twenty20 tournament against the Aussies but went one better this summer when she was part of the England squad that won the Ashes.
Beth Bryan: Beth is 19 and from Stockton. Following on from Kat Copeland’s gold medal success at the London Olympics, fellow Tees Rowing Club member Beth has emerged as a future star. In January, she won a gold and two silvers at the Youth Olympic Festival in Sydney. Beth was then part of the women’s eight that won a silver medal at the World Under-23 Championships in Austria in May. She was also part of a North-Eastern crew that won a quadruple sculls title at the British Championships in September. There's every chance she’ll be going for medals at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
Kat Driscoll: Kat is 27, from West Rainton, and trains at the Apollo Trampolining Club in Washington. Having narrowly missed out on the Olympic final last year, Kat has taken her career to another level in 2013. She retained her British title in both the individual and synchro events and teamed up with Amanda Parker to win a gold medal in the synchro discipline at the World Games in Colombia. She won two world titles at last month’s World Trampolining Championships in Sofia in the team and synchro events. This makes her the most successful British trampolinist of all time.
Three finalists who all deserve their place in the spotlight but there has to be a winner - and the winner is Paul Conway.
And the winner is...
First up is the Senior Award For Remarkable Achievement, sponsored by Northumbrian Water
Gavin Walker: Gavin is 73, hails from Durham, and is a powerlifting champion. Earlier this year, he became World Master Seven champion in the 70-74 years age group at the World Cup in Rockland, USA. In June, he also became World Master Seven champion at the World Cup in Antwerp. His powerlifting career spans 45 years and he has achieved 57 world records, 61 European records, and 112 British records. Gavin also coaches, is an international referee, and pays his own way to travel around the world.
Paul Conway: Paul is 53 and from Norton on Teesside. Paul has always been a keen sportsman and ten years ago was due to represent Britain as a marathon runner in the over-40s World Championships in Australia. Shortly before the event, he became paralysed down one half of his body due to a blood clot on his brain. After trying a wide range of therapies, a doctor suggested equine therapy at the RDA Unicorn Centre in Hemlington. Paul had never ridden before but, ten months after starting, he won a National Riding For the Disabled Award, along with national rosettes for dressage.
Lance Bombardier James Simpson: Catterick-based James, who is 27, lost both of his legs while serving with the Royal Artillery in Helmand in 2009. However, in September he made a piece of sporting history by becoming the first double-amputee to complete the gruelling Spartan Race, featuring a four-mile course and 25 challenges. These included crawling under barbed-wire through thick mud, a 25ft rope climb, running with sandbags, and a fire leap. He then tackled the world-renowned Super Spartan Challenge. Running in his “stubbies” - small pads that fit on the bottom of his thighs - he tackled obstacles, which included flaming logs and a 30ft high net, over an 8-mile course.
At the local heroes with @DuncanBannatyne looking forward to a good night #localheroes13— @Lyndonlonghorne 05 December 2013
#localheroes13 fantastic display from @AcropolisLive and great entrance from @EchoPeterBarron— @darlingtoncares 05 December 2013
8:55pm Thu 5 Dec 13
Site arcs says
Good luck Durham St Leonard's School
Sat at events like these gives me more incentive to become world champion #localheroes13— @stuskithechamp 05 December 2013
Great turnout for @TheNorthernEcho #localheroes13 hilarious entrance by @EchoPeterBarron and his human headgear.— @NECCBrynPR 05 December 2013
Good luck to @SpennymoorTown and @Jayainsley7 and the team. Jason you will go to anything that's free!!! #localheroes13— @oates1981 05 December 2013
Having a great night at #localheroes13 with Apollo Trampoline Club!!— @driscoll86 05 December 2013
The awards will resume in five minutes. Good luck to all nominees.
Durham County Cricket Club coach Geoff Cook at tonight's awards
The awards are taking a break for dinner, we'll be back shortly...
The wide array of sporting heroes present at tonight's awards is being introduced tot he crowd.
They include Sunderland's 1973 FA Cup winning, double-save-making goalkeeper Jimmy Montgomery, pictured below, the guest of honour.
Other leading lights here tonight include Ex-Boro star Gary Pallister, goal ace Steph Houghton, London 2012 trampolinist Kat Driscoll, World Cup referee George Courtney and Hartlepool golfer Craig Storm.
Olympians Kat Driscoll and Steph Houghton
Newcastle Eagles player coach, the legendary Fabulous Flournoy
2009 Local Hero, Lyndon Longhorne, pictured with Duncan Bannatyne
World boxing title contender, Darlington's Stuart Hall
A truly stunning display of athleticism from the youngsters of Deerness Gymnastics Club has opened tonight's show.
They have a series of Christmas shows coming up, so check them out if you can.
The Northern Echo editor and host for tonight's ceremony, Peter Barron, makes his case for a place in display team Acropolis.
People are gathering in the hall. Anticipation is building for the start of the night.
It won't be long until the lights go down...
Tonight's Local Heroes Awards, will be shining a very bright spotlight on the stars of grassroots sport in the North-East: the ordinary people doing extraordinary things; the achievers and those who help others achieve.
Follow the ceremony here with reports and pictures throughout the night.
Comments are closed on this article.