A BOXING coach whose lifetime dedication to the sport has helped inspire dozens of others has been honoured at a ceremony celebrating Darlington’s unsung heroes.

Lol Degnan was named citizen of the year at the annual Best of Darlington Awards at Darlington College last night, as well as picking up the prize for contribution to sport.

The 80-year-old, who has been teaching the art of fighting in the ring for the best part of 60 years, launched Darlington Amateur Boxing Club 32 years ago and has since been responsible for coaching more than 70 fighters to regional and national boxing championships.

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Danny Stevens, 19, a volunteer and fundraiser for St Teresa’s Hospice, won the young citizen of the year award.

He was nominated by Laurence Job, of Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form College, who said: “An unfailingly positive and cheerful person, Danny champions volunteering and modestly says: I gain so much personally from volunteering, receiving more than I give.”

The Northern Echo:

A special award was presented to borough councillor and chairman of Darlington’s Town Twinning Association, Tom Nutt, for his work to maintain the town’s links with Europe, which last year reached their 60th year.

Other award-winners included Darlington business owners, Alex and Samantha Blackham for their contribution to the community, Red Cross volunteer Margaret Grey who was named volunteer of the year, and world boxing champion, Stuart Hall, who took home the prize for performance in sport.

Award-winning classical guitarist, Anthony Davison, serenaded guests as they arrived, while jazz saxophonist Alexander Bone, 17, of High Coniscliffe opened the ceremony.

A buffet was provided by Darlington College students, and singer-songwriter Jodie Nicholson, 17, from Hurworth, performed during the interval.

The swing band from Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form College closed the event.

A number of dignitaries also attended the awards night, including the town’s MP Jenny Chapman and Darlington mayor Charles Johnson.

See The Northern Echo on Wednesday (March 26) for a supplement featuring a report, pictures and details of all the winners.