CHILDREN in a town have been recognised for their hard work in the community by a police force.

Over the last year, Darlington Police have celebrated children in the town for work that is often missed through the Young Heroes Award.

Out of those nominated by friends, family and neighbours, the 12 winners – one each month from June 2019 – included Cameron Dodds, Esme Kay and Harrison Foers.

Project lead PCSO Natasha Bree said the police, which implemented the scheme after seeing its success in Peterlee, hoped the awards would highlight positive work that young people do that is often missed due to previous negativity around young people and anti-social behaviour.

Nominated by his mum, 15-year-old Cameron "goes above and beyond" for people, especially since his dad died by suicide last year.

Haughton mum Jennie Dodds said: "You don't ever think something like that will happened never mind think about how a person will react, but Cameron has been so caring and thoughtful. He goes out of his way to check in on people, like his grandad, and make sure everything is all right."

The teen's grandad lives on the way back from Longfield Academy, where he is a student, and struggles with mobility since having a stroke.

She added: "I'm so pleased and proud for him. I didn't say that I had nominated him so I had to show him the email before he believed he'd won."

Another winner is environmentalist Esme, 11, who takes inspiration from Greta Thunberg and is passionate about saving the planet.

The year six student, who was nominated by a family friend, wrote letters to her head teacher and successfully lobbied the school to start recycling pens.

Mum Rowan Kay said: "She wanted to take part in the school strike but I couldn't get the time off work, maybe next time. But I absolutely support her, she wants to save the planet for future generations. She's always been passionate, it's built into her."

Esme, whose favourite phrase is 'there is no planet B', has set up a Facebook page called Esme's Eco Warriors to help spread awareness and environmental news.

She says the impact of coronavirus on the environment, like aquatic life returning to Venice's canals, has shown people can live in a less harmful way.

Six-year-old Harrison has been fundraising since he was two, after realising not all children have toys while looking for Christmas gifts.

He has taken part in sponsored runs and organised charitable events as big as fun days, where "wouldn't leave his stall to have fun".

Amy Foers, Harrison's mum, said: "He just understands in a way I would never expect a young child. It's crazy, I'm so proud of him. Every day he is thinking about other ways to raise money, he is so determined."

Harrison has raised money for several causes, but consistently for Joseph's Dream as Joseph also lives in Middleton St George.

Each Young Heroes winner was presented with a certificate, trophy and voucher, while a celebratory evening organised for June has been postponed.

The project has been supported by local businesses which have donated funding, vouchers and marketing. This includes Arriva, The Cornmill Centre, the Co-op Tillage Green, The Trophy Centre, and Tipi Chic.

PCSO Bree said: “In our role in community policing, it is vital that we engage with the community and a lot of that work for us is with young people in schools, community centres and in the areas that we cover. I am very passionate about promoting young people in a positive light and the young heroes awards seem like a great way to do this in Darlington.

"There are so many that are doing amazing things that often go under the radar, but we want to shine a light on them."

Darlington Police is seeking additional funding and donations to continue the initiative for another 12 months.