A LEADING North-East athletics club has been awarded a prestigious award by The Queen.

Darlington Harriers were presented with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service – the highest award that can be made to a voluntary group.

The award was presented to chairman Mark Tallon and Club Development Officer Paul Cook by the Lord Lieutenant of County Durham, Sue Snowdon, who described the club as “an outstanding voluntary body”.

Mrs Snowdon, The Queen’s representative in County Durham, added: “This award is very special, and it recognises the dedication and commitment of the volunteers at this club. It is something to be really proud of.

“Darlington Harriers are highly regarded in the local community for encouraging and supporting people of all ages to become involved in athletics.”

She also praised the club for placing high importance on inspiring members to think about their personal health and well-being, including appointing a mental health ambassador.

“That’s so important in an area where many people suffer from poor health and obesity,” she said. “The people of Darlington and the surrounding area are certainly well served by your club.”

Mr Tallon described the award – presented annually to groups in the voluntary sector – as “a fantastic achievement” for all the members.

He announced that the Harriers, founded in 1891, now have more than 400 members, making it the third biggest athletics club in the North-East.

The club, based at Eastbourne Complex, has raised more than £30,000 for charity in the past year and its teams are flying high in their leagues.

The junior track and field team is at the top of the North East Youth Development League Division Two, and the senior track and field team is at the top of the Northern Athletics Division 4E.

“These are very exciting and successful times for Darlington Harriers,” said Mr Tallon.