THE word inspirational can be overused.

Not in the case of Matt Hadden. Despite being diagnosed with bone cancer, undergoing intense chemotherapy and losing a leg to the disease, he vowed to live life to the full, kayaking around the Isle of Skye with his dad, rock climbing, sailing and memorably completing this year’s Great North Run after meeting Sir Mo Farah beforehand.

Matt walked the course using a prosthetic leg and only allowed himself to be pushed in a wheelchair when he was absolutely exhausted.

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Aged 28, he died at his home in Dalton-onTees on Wednesday, just hours before he was due to feature as a finalist in The Northern Echo’s Local Heroes awards.

Last night’s ceremony rightly included a special tribute to his courage – and also honoured those other young faces Bradley Lowery and Kieran Maxwell who, in their all too short lives, helped bring so many people together through their love of sport.

Cancer has also touched the life of our overall winner, John Moore, who at 80 years young, is still coaching swimmers seven days a week.

People like John are what keep sports club going. The people who spend their lives nurturing new talent, pushing on potential stars and donating countless hours to keep things ticking over. Never seeking the limelight or praise, just happy to see their proteges shine.

We salute John for his lifelong commitment, congratulate all of last night’s winners and finalists, and the many coaches, parents, players and athletes who will be out training, competing and supporting once more this weekend.