THIS year’s Local Heroes Awards will be staged at Wynyard Hall on Thursday, December 6, with the judging for the awards ceremony having taken place last month. These are the shortlisted nominees for the ten award categories



The Northern Echo:

Terry is 35 and from Middlesbrough. He was born without a tibia and fibula in his left leg, which was amputated when he was two. He was forced to use a wheelchair, and started playing wheelchair basketball after being introduced to the sport at an open day in Middlesbrough with the Teesside Lions club. Within a year, he had been selected for Great Britain’s Under-23 team, and made his senior British debut at the Sydney Paralympics in 2000, helping his team finish fourth. He has competed in four subsequent Paralympics, winning bronze medals at Athens and Beijing, and this summer, he enjoyed the greatest success of his career when he was part of the Great Britain side that won the World Championships for the first time, beating Paralympic champions USA in the final.


Alan is 85 and from Redcar. He is a member of the Royal British Legion, and last year, the chairman of the Redcar branch, Eric Howdon, asked for ideas to mark 100 years since the end of the First World War. A lifelong swimmer, Alan said he would swim 100 miles despite being in his mid-80s. The great grandad has visited Redcar Leisure Centre every weekday, with his efforts being carefully logged, and most days he swims half-a-mile (32 lengths). He had to take much of March and April off due to a kidney infection and a fall, but he is on track to complete the challenge and raise more than £1,000 for the British Legion.


Simon is 34 and from Darlington. Having had leukaemia as a child, Simon kept on developing chest infections, and in December 2007, he suffered an extremely serious infection that left him in the early stages of heart failure. His life was saved by a heart transplant operation at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital, and having completed his recovery, he threw himself into athletics. He has won a host of medals over the years at various Transplant Games, and this year he celebrated his new heart’s ten-year milestone by competing for Great Britain at the European Transplant Games. He returned with a gold medal in the biathlon, silvers in the individual cycling and 1,500m, and a bronze in the 4km cross-country run.

SENIOR SPORTING EXCELLENCE (Sponsored by Northumbrian Water)


Emily is 35 and from Durham. For the last decade, she has been the British number one in the winter sport of ski cross, where skiers race against each other over a series of jumps and mounds. Eight years ago, she suffered heartbreak ahead of the Winter Olympics in Vancouver when a massive crash snapped all the ligaments in her knee, tore her meniscus and fractured her tibia and fibula. She was out of the Olympics, and it was feared she would never ski again. She recovered though, and got to a position where she should have had an automatic place at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi. However, an administrative wrangle with the British Ski and Snowboard Association meant she was left heart-broken again when her place at the Games was not ratified. Refusing to give up, she continued striving in her sport, taking her tally of British titles to eight, and finally this spring she was able to compete at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. She finished in 16th position, the best result ever recorded by a British skier in an Olympic ski cross event.


Charlie is 21 and from Great Ayton. Having worked his way through the junior ranks in the British cycling team, this has been Charlie’s breakthrough year at senior international level. Riding as part of a new-look British squad at the World Track Cycling Championships in Holland, Charlie won a gold medal in the team pursuit. He then enjoyed further top-level success at the Commonwealth Games, winning a gold medal in the individual pursuit and a silver medal as part of Britain’s team pursuit line-up. He won a gold medal in the individual pursuit at the British Track Championships, and claimed further gold medals in the individual pursuit and team pursuit at the UCI Track World Cup in Minsk. He is now regarded as one of the best pursuit riders in the world, and has every chance of claiming a medal and adding to Britain’s proud track cycling heritage at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.


The Northern Echo: HOME NATIONS: England's Aimee Willmott, right, with her gold medal and Scotland's Hannah Miley, who won silver, in the Women's 400m Individual Medley at the Commonwealth Games

Aimee is 25 and from Middlesbrough. A former member of Middlesbrough ASC, Aimee has been a swimmer on the British team for the best part of a decade, competing in the 2012 Olympics in London and the 2016 Games in Rio. She has won a host of major medals at European, Commonwealth and British Championships, and has been a finalist at both the World Championships and Olympics, but up until this year, a major gold medal had always eluded her. That finally changed at this year’s Commonwealth Games when she beat her long-term rival Hannah Miley in the final of the 400m Individual Medley to claim gold, reversing the finishing positions from four years earlier in Glasgow.



Ian is 83 and from Darlington. A lifelong athletics enthusiast, who has been associated with Darlington Harriers for a number of decades, Ian was the driving force behind the creation of the Darlington Park Run in December 2012. Since then, he has been integral to the growth of the weekly event, which has seen more than 450 participants. Every week, more than 300 amateur runners descend on South Park, and the event has spurred the growth of running clubs within Darlington. Ian’s involvement doesn’t end with the organisation – even though he is in his 80s, he is still a keen runner, and this year he broke the British one mile record for over-80s.


Bobby is 30 and from County Durham. A maths teacher, he helped form Beamish Dynamos Football Club, a disability football team, with his father, Tom, ten years ago. Since then, he has helped grow the club into one of the most successful disability football teams in the country, and has been recognised nationally for his coaching talents. In 2015, Bobby was chosen as the head coach for the Great Britain team at the Special Olympics in Los Angeles, and he guided his side to a gold-medal success in the final. Earlier this year, he was selected, along with his joint-manager, Anthony Marsden, as head coach and coach for the GB team at next year’s Special Olympics in Abu Dhabi.


The Northern Echo:

Julie is 54 and from Durham. Earlier this year, she won the Contribution to Sport category at the Active Durham Sport and Physical Activity Awards, to mark her impact on women’s and girl’s football in the county. Thirteen years ago, she watched her sons, Billy and Charlie, playing for St Cuthberts’ Boys’ team in Chester-le-Street, and saw a game where they lost to a girls’ team. Despite having no previous experience, she decided to set up her own girls’ team and embarked on her Level One FA coaching qualification. She formed the Amazons Football Club, and while it took four years for the club to win their first game, it has grown dramatically. There are now ten teams and 130 girls representing the Amazons, who won the County Durham FA Women’s Development Division last season.

UNSUNG HERO AWARD (Sponsored by Durham Animal Feeds Ltd)


The Northern Echo:

Wilf is 85 and from Darlington. He first took up table tennis at the age of ten in his native Peterborough, where he worked as a power station fitter, a job that was to lead to him developing mesothelioma. Following the death of his wife, he relocated to Darlington at the age of 70, and joined Darlington Table Tennis Academy to give him something to do. Since then, he has become the heart and soul of the club, setting up 22 tables and nets for the club’s coaching session on a Thursday evening, and coaching the clubs’ junior section. After he was diagnosed with mesothelioma recently, and told he might just have two years to live, the Darlington table tennis leagues set up a new over-40s competition in his honour in aid of cancer research. Wilf insisted on playing for the Wilf Gilbert Trophy – and duly beat all-comers to become the competition’s first winner.


Karen is 49 and from Skelton. She is a stalwart of the Darlington and Teesside running scene, as both a participant and volunteer. In addition to being a full-time nurse, she is a keen photographer who supports a host of local events. She has just completed 250 volunteer days at the Darlington Park Run, which includes Christmas and New Year’s Day. She has also attended more than 100 other charity events and presentation nights, taking photographs free of charge that runners and local organisations really appreciate.


Robert is 64 and from Willington. He started playing football at the age of ten for Willington Schools and District team, and went on to play local football in Willington on a Saturday and Sunday until he forced to retire at the age of 38. A fan of Willington AFC, he was concerned at the lack of young players coming through, so he approached the club and asked to set up an Under-18s team. His request was granted, and he went on to run Willington’s junior team for 15 years as manager and treasurer. The following season, he set up a separate Willington youth Sunday team. In 2010, he was made manager of Willington FC’s first team, and he guided the club to promotion from the Wearside League back into the Northern League, reaching two finals along the way. Today, at the age of 64, he is still the vice-chairman of Willington Youth and coaches every week.

SENIOR TEAM/CLUB OF THE YEAR (Sponsored by CA Group Limited)


This year, Haughton Cricket Club became the first club in over 40 years to win both the A & B divisions of the Darlington and District Cricket League, and only the second club ever to achieve this. The first XI won the A division by 45 points, with two games to spare. The second XI had a much tighter finish to the season - they played the team in second place in a "winner takes all match" and won by 32 runs to win the title, a much better performance than the previous season when they avoided relegation by one point. Haughton also won the Eggleston Cup and Murragh Wilson Cup.


Richmondshire CC hit the national headlines this summer when they triumphed in the final of the Royal London Club Championship, the premier national competition for club cricket teams. In doing so, Richmondshire became the first club from the North Yorkshire and South Durham League ever to win the trophy. The NYSD side did extremely well just to make the national finals, winning through a challenging regional section that saw them beat South Northumberland and Chester-le-Street. In the final, in Bristol, they took on Stanmore CC and won with four balls to spare.


The Northern Echo: Stockton Town v Marske United at Stockton in the first leg of the F.A. Vase semi-final. Stockton Town go 2-0 when Fred Woodhouse heads in. Picture: CHRIS BOOTH

Stockton Town FC of the Northern League enjoyed the biggest day of their history in May when they played in the FA Vase final at Wembley. Only formed in 1979 under its original name, Hartburn Juniors, Stockton began playing in the Teesside Junior Football Alliance and only made it into the Northern League in 2016. Their FA Vase run began with wins over Consett, Bootle, City of Liverpool, West Auckland and Stourport Swifts. A quarter-final win over Windsor FC set up a semi-final derby with Marske United, which was won 3-2 on aggregate. That booked a place at Wembley, and in front of a crowd of more than 30,000, Stockton suffered a 1-0 defeat to Thatcham Town.



The Northern Echo:

Harry is 15 and from Chester-le-Street. Harry has Down’s Syndrome, and is the coach of the Chester-le-Street Amazons Under-7s girls team. Eighteen months ago, Harry was watching his sister, Gracie, playing for the Amazons, shouting encouragement and tactical tips from the touchlines. The club’s organisers saw him, and asked him if he would like to become involved in coaching. Since then, he has become fully established as part of the Under-7s coaching team. He is there on the pitch in all weathers, working to improve the club’s young players, and is determined to start taking his FA Level One coaching qualification once he turns 16. Earlier this year, he was named Participant of the Year at the North-East Disability Sport Awards.


India is 16 and from Barnard Castle. India has cerebral palsy, and is already an athletics world champion despite her disability. Having been a member of Darlington Harriers for a number of years, India was selected to represent England at the Cerebral Palsy International Sport and Recreation Association World Games in Spain. Representing England, India achieved a double success, winning both the 100m and 200m in her category of T35.


Ellen is 14 and from Gosforth. She has Mosaic Down’s Syndrome, and is a competitive swimmer who takes part in Down’s Syndrome swimming and para-swimming. She trains with Newcastle Swim Team and is a member of the North-East Disability Swim Club, and was invited to join the Down’s Syndrome Swimming GB team in 2017. In July, she travelled to Nova scotia, Canada, with the GB team and won seven gold and one silver medal to become female Mosaic Down’s Syndrome world champion. In doing so, she helped the GB team finish second in the World Championship rankings. She competes at national level in para-swimming, and her most recent para-swimming medal was an open bronze in the 50m backstroke in the North-East Regional Para-Swimming Championships in Harrogate.

JUNIOR SPORTING EXCELLENCE (Sponsored by Darlington Building Society)


Finn is 12 and from School Aycliffe. He plays ice hockey for the Billingham Stars team, and is regarded as one of the leading young ice hockey prospects in the whole of the UK. In the 2017-18 season, Finn finished as the top goalscorer (46 goals) and points scorer (71 points) in the country at under-13 level. He represented the England Under-13 team in Slovakia, where he finished as top goalscorer in all of England’s games against Slovakian teams. He also represented the North of England in the English Ice Hockey Association’s Conference tournament for the fourth year in a row, and helped his club, Billingham Stars, become national champions at under-13 level.


The Northern Echo:

Daisy is 17 and from Aske, near Richmond. Even though she is not yet 18, Daisy is ranked fifth in the GB women’s rankings in canoe slalom, and is the top-ranked woman in the whole of the north of England. She was the only junior woman based outside London to make this year’s GB team and represented Britain in the Junior World Championships in Italy and Junior European Championships in Slovakia. In the Junior Worlds, she won a silver medal in the team event and came 13th in the individual rankings. In the Junior Europeans, she finished ninth in the individual final, making her the top-ranked British competitor.


Nathan is 16 and from Ingleby Barwick. A keen footballer from an early age, Nathan started his career in the youth teams at Stockton Town. His talent was soon identified, and he was invited to join Middlesbrough’s academy three years ago. Since then, he has established himself as one of the most exciting young footballing prospects in the country. He has starred for Middlesbrough’s youth teams, and earlier this season, he made history when he came off the bench in the Carabao Cup win over Notts County to become the youngest first-team player in Middlesbrough’s entire history. He has made two more first-team appearances, and earlier this month, he captained England Under-17s to victories over the United States and Russia.

MOST PROMISING NEW TALENT (Sponsored by The Northern Echo)


Lewis is eight and from Bishop Auckland. He is a keen cyclist and is a member of the Stockton Wheelers club. Last year, he won the Stockton Wheelers’ Juvenile Cycling Skills trophy. He was also crowned North-East regional champion at under-8s level. This year has proved every bit as successful, with Lewis winning the North-East Road Youth League combined event. He also won this year’s Croft Circuit Racing Trophy, and triumphed in an Under-10s race in Darlington, even though he was competing against cyclists more than two years older than him. He competed in another Under-10s event in Yorkshire, finishing fifth.


The Northern Echo:

Tom is eight and from Eaglescliffe. He is a keen golfer, and earlier this year he competed in the Grassholme Goblet, an adult tournament at Rockliffe Park. Despite his age, and the fact he was playing on one of the toughest courses in the north of England, he beat more than 100 adult rivals, with a score four under his handicap total over 36 holes. A total of 112 players set out on the first round, with the best 40 making the cut. Tom was in fourth place after his first round, two shots off the lead, but played immaculately in his second 18 holes to rise to the top of the leaderboard. He


John and Adam are 14-year-old twins from Darlington. They have long enjoyed cycling and swimming, and at the start of this year, joined Darlington Harriers athletics club. They gained selection to represent the county in the English Schools Cross Country Championships, and their success continued into their debut track season, with Adam winning the North East, Durham Schools and Intercounties 1500m titles. They both also spent part of the year competing in regional Aquathlons and Triathlons, John taking two wins, and two third places with Adam hot on his heels.

JUNIOR TEAM/CLUB OF THE YEAR (Sponsored by Fine & Country and Robinsons)


Billingham Stars’ Under-13s were crowned national champions earlier this year on a fantastic weekend in Sheffield. Having come through a series of national qualifiers, the Stars were one of four teams to make the national finals weekend. They played Streatham Ice Hockey Club in the semi-finals of the National Cup, and claimed a comprehensive 8-1 win, with captain Tommy Spraggon leading from the front, scoring two goals. That ensured Billingham were North-Midlands champions, and set up a final against the Southern champions Chelmsford Braves. Another excellent performance saw Billingham’s Under-13s finish as 6-2 winners to claim the national crown.


Durham City Juniors’ Under-7s were crowned North-East champions after they beat off 250 teams to claim the North-East Championship, a two-day summer tournament. The team, who play in the Russell Foster League, only came together in April, but by the end of the summer they were beating the best that the rest of the North-East had to offer. After coming through a host of earlier rounds, Durham beat Tekkers North East 4-1 in the final.


The Under-12s girls’ team from St John Fisher RC High School in Harrogate enjoyed national success this year when they won the ESFA Under-12s Nine-A-Side Schools’ Cup trophy. In total, the girls’ team had to come through eight rounds to win the trophy, with the quarter-final of the FA-affiliated competition seeing them claim a 3-1 win over Crompton House School from Oldham. That earned them a home semi-final against Thomas Telford School from Telford and Wrekin, and they performed superbly to win 5-0. The final, which was staged at St George’s Park, the home of the English FA, in May, pitted them against Gordano School in North Somerset, and an extremely close game ended with them running out 1-0 winners.

OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE (Sponsored by BMI Woodlands Hospital)


The Northern Echo: GLASGOW GOLD? Jade Jones

Jade is 22 and from Middlesbrough. She is one of the country’s leading wheelchair racers, having been born with a missing femur. Having been invited to try out wheelchair racing by Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson, Jade first raced competitively in 2009. She has subsequently won a raft of national and international honours, and has just completed the most successful season of her career. Jade normally competes solely on the track, but in the build-up to this year’s Commonwealth Games, she decided she would also take up para-triathlon, which was part of the Games programme for the first time. Despite her lack of experience in the discipline, she won a gold medal at the Commonwealths, overtaking her closest rival, Australian Lauren Parker, on the last lap of racing. She returned to the track to win a Commonwealth silver in the T54 marathon.


Jordan is a goalkeeper with non-league side Guisborough Town. In August, his side were trailing 3-2 to Newton Aycliffe in the dying seconds of an FA Cup preliminary round game. In desperation, Jordan headed upfield for a corner, and remarkably, he found the back of the net to salvage his side a replay courtesy of a 3-3 draw. That was impressive enough, but what was to follow three weeks later was even more incredible. Again, Guisborough were trailing 3-2 as their Northern League Division One match against Hebburn Town headed into stoppage time. Again, Jordan sprinted upfield for a free-kick. And again, as a loose ball bobbled around the penalty area, the goalkeeper swooped to drive home a dramatic late equaliser.


Shrikant is a cricketer who plays for Stokesley in the NYSD League. This June, he achieved what all pace bowlers dream of, taking all ten opposition wickets in a league match against Middlesbrough. Shrikant, who has previously played for Pune Warriors in the IPL, recorded figures of 10-39 from 11.4 overs as he proved completely unplayable. Middlesbrough were dismissed for 97, enabling Stokesley to win by 131 runs.

* The overall Local Hero, sponsored by Cummins, will be selected from the ten category winners.