SWORD-fighting young offenders have been praised by Prince Edward.

North-East England Regional Fencing has won a national award for its Street Swords programme in the Sport and Recreation Alliance’s Community Sport and Recreation Awards.

The Alliance’s President, HRH The Earl of Wessex, presented the club with the Innovative Project Award at a ceremony in St James’s Palace in London.

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The Street Swords scheme, launched in 2008, has trained more than 80 young people as leaders who have taught more than 800 children from disadvantaged backgrounds how to fence.

Training sessions which have taken place in Middlesbrough, Peterlee, Hartlepool and Durham teach young people to use intelligence over aggression.

Beth Davidson, North East Regional Fencing Development Officer, said: “This award is a credit to all the partners involved and made it happen, especially The Princes Trust, Stockton Riverside College and UK Steel Enterprise.”

“I’m delighted that this innovative and inspiring project has been recognised with this award,” said Marie Liston, North East Region England Fencing and England Fencing President.

“Street Swords has had such a positive influence on everyone involved in the project, creating opportunities and development for young people in a challenging area.

Katy Robinson, Street Swords Leader, added: “Being involved in the Street Swords project not only gave me a qualification, but increased my skills and knowledge within a coaching setting. It gave me the confidence and platform from which I have gone on to gain more coaching qualifications in different sports.”

The Sport and Recreation Alliance is the umbrella body for the governing and representative bodies of sport and recreation in the UK. It represents more than 300 members including the FA, UK Athletics and British Rowing.