TALENTED athletes and dedicated coaches and volunteers from County Durham have been recognised for their sporting achievements.

The annual Active Durham Sport and Physical Activity Awards were given out to some of the areas best athletes and coaches, as well as the volunteers who help make it happen, at an event at the Gala Theatre, Durham, on Friday.

Former Olympic gymnast Kristian Thomas was guest speaker and also presented winners with their awards.

She said: “Sport has given me incredible opportunities and I firmly believe sport and physical activity should be accessed and enjoyed by everyone. It’s great to see County Durham celebrating the many positives it brings to everyday life.”

There were prizes for Sue Bainbridge, from Middleton-in-Teesdale, who volunteers at the village’s community gym, Kath Scales, who helps run a Riding for the Disabled group in Bishop Auckland, and young gymnast Kayla Nichol, who helps outs at Inspire Gymnastics Academy in Murton.

The Northern Echo:

Kath Scales, a volunteer at Riding for the Disabled in Escomb

Teenage sprinter India Oates, from Barnard Castle, won the sport and physical activity achievement of the year award after winning two gold medals at the CPISRA World Games last year, which is aimed at athletes with Cerebral Palsy.

The Northern Echo:

Sprinter India Oates, from Barnard Castle

Coach of the year was Paul Boyle, of Derwent Valley Trail Runners, while 18-year-old taekwondo star Simone Abley, who set up her own club in Middlestone Moor, was named as young coach of the year.

The club of the year award went to Durham-based Laszlo’s Fencing, which was nominated for the efforts of its members in volunteering at the Junior Commonwealth Championships, held in Newcastle last year, while junior club of the year was Consett Steelers netball, which has 12 teams in the local league and regularly has more than 90 children attending.

The Northern Echo:

Simone Abley, who runs a taekwondo club in Middlestone Moor, was named as young coach of the year

Other awards went to fencer Duncan Rowlands, who won a bronze medal at the World Team Championships and gold in the British Veterans National Championships and swimmer Ellen Stephenson, from Newcastle Swim Team, who won seven gold medals and one silver at the Downs Syndrome Swimming Association European Championships.

The Northern Echo:

Fencer Duncan Rowlands

John Ashworth, who has been involved at Barnard Castle Cricket Club for more than 40 years, was given the contribution to sport award.

Peases West Primary School, in Billy Row and The Academy at Shotton Hall were also given awards.

Annie Dolphin, chair of the Active Durham Partnership said: “We’re delighted that County Durham has so many people who are dedicated and passionate about sports and fitness.

“Our 13 winners really reflect the great range of initiatives on offer to help people of all ages and abilities to enjoy physical activities.”