A YOUNG man, who was described as "the real winner of the Great North Run", has lost his inspirational battle against cancer.

Matt Hadden, 28, a finalist in tonight's Local Heroes Awards at Wynyard Hall, died peacefully at home in Dalton-on-Tees, near Darlington, last night.

Matt's mum Sarah told The Northern Echo today: "He just proved to everyone that no matter what you face in life, you can still do amazing things."

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Matt, who had been training to be a police officer, inspired millions when he completed the Great North Run in September, despite having had a leg amputated due to bone cancer.

VIDEO: Sir Mo Farah took time out of his preparation for the 2017 Simplyhealth Great North Run to surprise Matt ahead of his race

Along with friends and family members, Matt completed the half-marathon in four hours and 48 minutes and was introduced to Sir Mo Farah.

David Hart, director of communications for the Great North Run, said after the event: "He might have been the last to finish, but he is without doubt the true winner of the Great North Run."

Despite his disability, Matt walked much of the half-marathon using a prosthetic leg, only accepting a ride in his wheelchair when he was utterly exhausted. His team, including mum Sarah and sister Helena, raised around £8,000 for Maggies, a support centre at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle.

Matt was training to be a police officer when he felt a niggle in his leg and went on to be diagnosed with a rare bone cancer which became terminal.

Since his diagnosis, Matt has had one objective – to go on living life to the full.

His treatment included having a leg amputated and extensive chemotherapy but he kayaked round the Isle of Skye with his dad, Brian, embarked on rock climbing challenges, and sailed round the Scottish coast.

As well as the Great North Run, he also completed another eight-mile walk and a one mile swim to raise money for cancer charities.

A tribute willl be paid to Matt at tonight's Local Heroes ceremony, organised by The Northern Echo.

His mum said: "He was so proud and humbled to be nominated as a finalist and we, as a family, are delighted that his story will be highlighted in this way."

Members of Matt's family will attend tonight's ceremony as the tribute is paid.