A HOST of grassroots sporting heroes have been honoured in a long-running awards scheme for “going the extra mile” during the lockdown.

The Darlington Sports Winners Awards is traditionally held at Darlington College, but the 45th annual event could not go ahead this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

However, the organisers rose to the challenge by organising a virtual event, which was streamed on Facebook.

Brian Dobinson, a long-standing member of the organising committee, said: “It was so sad this year when we realised that our 45th award ceremony couldn’t take place due to Covid restrictions. “However, we decided that we couldn’t let the year pass without rewarding the people who went the extra mile during these hard times. The standard of nominations has been amazing – many people have really gone beyond what you could expect this year."


Les Hughes, chairman of Middleton Rangers, for volunteering to develop the club’s grounds by raising funds, replacing fencing and gates for the whole site. A new generator and floodlights have also been installed.

Kevin Rissetto, a dedicated teaching assistant and coach at the Masterskills Football Academy. Kevin worked tirelessly to support vulnerable families, and the children of key workers at The Rydal Academy.

Mark Tallon, of Darlington Harriers, for being the driving force behind “Back To Track” events at Eastbourne Complex.

Ian Barnes, of Darlington Harriers, for setting a new British mile record for over-85s.

Debbie Williamson and Paul Horsley, for running taekwondo coaching sessions on Zoom three times a week during lockdown – completely free of charge.

Ollie Porter, 12, of Darlington Harriers, for a series of personal best times as a wheelchair athlete.

Darlington Cricket Club Under-17s for being unbeaten during the 2020 season, and winning the NYSD Under-17 League, and the Pallister Cup.

Chloe Bright, of Darlington Spraire Lasses, for organising online fitness classes three times a week during lockdown.

Nathan Beadle, for dedication to Darlington Spraire Lasses.

Paul and Linda Beadle, of Darlington Spraire Lasses, for organising weekly online fitness challenges, quizzes, colouring competitions, and encouraging everyone to stay safe and active.

Michael Dicks, of Darlington Boxing and Martial Arts Academy, for working 15 hours a day to train members.

Carol Bottomley, of Darlington Amateur Swimming and Diving Club, for 13 years of dedication and volunteering to be the club’s Covid Liaison Officer.

Natasha Levy, for her dedication to Headlanders netball club. This included providing weekly Zoom sessions and encouraging members to take part in a fundraising initiative that raised £1,950 for a school in Malawi.

Sonny Mason, 11, for starring in taekwondo and going unbeaten in 2020 before lockdown.

Sally Austen, who has just finished volunteering at Darlington Gymnastics Club after 20 years and has supported gynmasts throughout lockdown.

Joshua Mullet, of Longfield Academy, for his dedication to cycling and keeping fit during lockdown.

Jennifer Harrison and Michael Watson, of Darlington Harriers, for their inspiration in running the “Couch To 5k and 10k” groups.

Lilly Israel, seven, for raising £2,183 for the NHS by running a half-marathon in fancy dress after being inspired by Captain Sir Tom Moore.

Eve Wake, nine, for raising more than £2,000 for Dementia UK by running 70k over two months after her grandad was diagnosed with dementia.