A SEASONED campaigner for fellow disabled residents was named Darlington’s citizen of the year.

Gordon Pybus and Antonia Puccio picked up the top awards at the Best of Darlington Awards at Darlington College on Friday.

They were among the 13 winners of individual categories at the annual awards, which were celebrating their sixth anniversary.

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Other winners included George Simpson, who picked up the unsung hero award for his years of dedication to football in Darlington.

Mr Pybus was the citizen of the year – an award first handed out in 1995 but which is now under the auspices of the Best of Darlington Awards.

He also won the adult contribution to the community category.

Mr Pybus is founder and long-standing chairman of Darlington Association on Disability.

He sits on a number of groups to represent the rights of disabled people. His association’s work includes Shop Mobility, an after-school and holiday club for disabled children and personal support.

Steve Rose, who nominated Mr Pybus, said: “Gordon is a tireless campaigner for those with impairments who need the support of Darlington Association on Disability.”

Antonia, 18, who was young citizen of the year, is a pupil at Polam Hall School. When she started at the age of eight, she had missed years of schooling, had difficulty reading, partial vision and little sensory feedback in her right hand because of serious injuries she sustained in an accident when she was seven months old, which cost her mother her life.

Polam Hall headteacher Marie Green nominated Antonia for the outstanding vocational award, which she also won.

She said: “She serves as a role model to younger students and mentors pupils experiencing academic or social difficulties. In her own achievement of the impossible, and through her incredible attitude towards learning and life Antonia has taught all of us a great deal, as she enriches our lives through the example of her own.”

Mr Simpson was one of the shortlisted candidates for the contribution to sport award.

He won the unsung hero award for 35 years’ dedicated service to the Darlington Church and Friendly Saturday League.

The sports award went to one-armed golfer Darren Grey. The arts section award was presented to Darlington Operatic Society, the business contribution went to Mech- Tools and the contribution to the environment to pupils at Corporation Road Primary School.

Students Andrew Williamson and Matthew Carnelly were selected for the academic excellence and exceptional student awards respectively.

Stephen Lunn was named the neighbour from heaven, Friends of North Park won the volunteer of the year award and Kirsty Lincoln won contribution to the community youth section.

Rockliffe Hall won the Putting Darlington on the Map award, and photographer Tracy Kidd won the Oh My Darlington section.

Overall Winners

Citizen of the Year: Gordon Pybus

Young Citizen of the Year: Antonia Puccio

Individual Winners

Contribution to Sport: Darren Grey

Contribution to the Arts: Darlington Operatic Society

Contribution to Business: Mech-Tools

Contribution to the Environment: Corporation Road Primary School

Academic Excellence: Andrew Williamson

Outstanding Vocational Learner: Antonia Puccio

Exceptional Student: Matthew Carnelly

Neighbour from Heaven: Stephen Lunn

Volunteer of the Year: Friends of North Park

Contribution to the Community (Adult): Gordon Pybus

Contribution to the Community (Youth): Kirsty Lincoln

Putting Darlington on the Map: Rockliffe Hall

Oh My Darlington: Tracy Kidd

Unsung Hero: George Simpson

A 12-page supplement including stories and citations of all the shortlisted candidates will be in The Northern Echo on Wednesday.