The Northern Echo celebrated County Durham’s unsung heroes in a glitzy awards ceremony last night.

Held every year, the County Durham Together Awards returned to Ramside Hall on Thursday evening (December 8) with a host of inspiring individuals and outstanding organisations being honoured for their achievements.

The annual awards, held in partnership with Durham County Council, give us the chance to shine a spotlight on some of the inspirational, selfless, dedicated people who go the extra mile in our region.

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Tears and cheers came in equal measure as thirteen winners took home prizes ranging from unsung hero to large company of the year.

Receiving a standing ovation as she took to the stage, Viv Pow, from Darlington was given the Special Recognition award having spent years as a committed bowel cancer campaigner, counselling others who need to wear an ileostomy bag.

Viv was told in June 2021 that her own cancer had returned as she was diagnosed with inoperable stage four cancer but vowed to keep living life to the full.

There was not a dry eye in the room as Durham Council Leader Cllr Amanda Hopgood collected the Carer of the Year award on behalf of Ann Owen. Ann was praised for selflessly looking after a severely disabled lad who she fostered for 16 years until he sadly passed away earlier this year.  

The Northern Echo: Carer of the Year - Ann OwenCarer of the Year - Ann Owen (Image: NORTHERN ECHO)

Also among the winners was Volunteer of the Year David Woods from Ludworth who arranged two trips to Ukraine to deliver tonnes of medical equipment, baby products, clothes, camping supplies, and more to those living in the war-torn country.

The Northern Echo: Volunteer of the Year Dave WoodsVolunteer of the Year Dave Woods (Image: NORTHERN ECHO)

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And picking up the Environment Award was ‘Enviro-kid’ Tristan Anderson, who spent his birthday money buying and planting trees and says he ‘wants to be like David Attenborough’.

The Northern Echo: Environmental Award winner Tristan Anderson - 'The Enviro-kid'Environmental Award winner Tristan Anderson - 'The Enviro-kid' (Image: NORTHERN ECHO)

Former Northern Echo editor Peter Barron MBE, who hosted the event, said: “It was a privilege to host the County Durham Together Awards again and help to celebrate the special people who make County Durham such a great place to live, work and do business.

“There are some remarkable stories to tell and it has been an emotional and inspirational night.”

Northern Echo Editor Gavin Foster said: “It was such a rollercoaster of emotions, and it really was difficult to fight back the tears at times.

The Northern Echo: Gavin Foster, Northern Echo EditorGavin Foster, Northern Echo Editor (Image: Northern Echo)

"There were so many wonderful stories of inspiration, dedications, commitment, tenacity and the determination of those who go above and beyond to support their communities.

"Huge congratulations to all the winners - but everyone shortlisted and other nominees are winners in our eyes and show what a fantastic place County Durham is to live and work. I was hugely proud to be a part of it.”

Full list of County Durham Together Award winners

In Memory of a Local Hero – Charlie Donaghy

Volunteer of the Year – David Woods

Carer of the Year – Ann Owen

Environment Award – Tristan Anderson – The Enviro-Kid

Public Service Award – County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service

Key Worker of the Year – Amy Sewell

Community/Voluntary Group of the Year – Bishop Auckland Veterans Group

Unsung Hero Award – Eric Hepplewhite

Health and Wellbeing Award – Darlington Lions Club

Visitor Economy Award – Teesdale Cheesemakers

Small/Medium Sized Company of the Year – Securicorp NE Ltd

Large Company of the Year – Cummins

Special Recognition Award – Viv Pow

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