EXCITEMENT is building ahead of the County Durham Together Awards 2023 – an event that unites individuals, businesses, public sector bodies, and community organisations in a celebration of a special part of the UK.

And the event’s partners have been speaking of their pride in being involved in what is sure to be another inspirational night.

The awards, celebrating all that’s good about County Durham, will be presented at Hardwick Hall Hotel, near Sedgefield, on the evening of December 6, and again compered by journalist and broadcaster Peter Barron MBE.

The glittering annual event has again been organised by The Northern Echo, in headline partnership with Durham County Council, and a host of other high-profile sponsors.

The Northern Echo:

Gavin Foster, editor of The Northern Echo, said: “Every year since we launched these awards, we have been blown away by the amazing stories of achievement, endeavour and dedication of so many people across County Durham, and how much they selflessly do in their communities without thought of reward.

“Although we can have only one winner in each category, every person entered deserves both our recognition and thanks. It's fantastic to be able to celebrate them with these awards, and we look forward to doing so once more.

“Of course, such a spectacular event could not happen without our sponsors, and we thank them for helping is to shine a spotlight on County Durham.”

The Northern Echo:


SPECIAL RECOGNITION AWARD sponsored by Durham County Council: Cllr Amanda Hopgood, Leader of Durham County Council (pictured below), said: “We are delighted to once again be sponsoring the County Durham Together Awards, which celebrate the valuable contribution of residents, volunteers, and workers across the county.

“The awards are our opportunity to shine a spotlight on the inspirational, selfless, and dedicated people who make County Durham the great place it is. Each year, we receive fantastic entries from people and groups who have gone the extra mile to help our communities and we are looking forward to showcasing their achievements next month.”

The Northern Echo:

VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR – sponsored by County Durham Community Foundation: Chief Executive, Michelle Cooper, said: “We are always keen to support the County Durham Together Awards because, in our work at County Durham Community Foundation, we are working every day with these unsung heroes. There are hundreds of them in our communities, working – often behind the scenes – to make a positive difference for people. 

“That’s why awards like County Durham Together Awards are so important: they shine a light on those people whose contribution to society is essential, but sometimes unseen. We’re delighted to join in celebrating the people and businesses of County Durham and send our congratulations to all the finalists.”

BUSINESS OF THE YEAR – sponsored by BHP Law: Managing Partner John Pratt said: “As one of the longest-established law firms in the North-East, we are delighted to again sponsor the Business of the Year category at the County Durham Together Awards.

“We have many world-class businesses operating in County Durham, so it’s a joy to help shine a spotlight on their achievements and showcase what the county has to offer.

“The County Durham Together Awards night is a magnificent occasion that reflects the values we hold dear at BHP Law – commitment to the area; support for good causes in the community; the creation of employment; and maximising the potential of local people – so we look forward to another memorable night.”

COMMUNITY/VOLUNTARY GROUPS – sponsored by believe housing: Alan Smith, Chief Executive at County Durham-based housing association, believe housing, said: “The County Durham Together Awards are a true celebration of the people and organisations that make our part of the world special.

“This year, we will recognise one of the many brilliant community or voluntary groups that have a positive impact on people’s lives. Our own work goes way beyond providing good quality, affordable, and healthy homes. We offer a range of support to customers and communities, helping to build places where people can thrive.

“The close relationship we have with our communities, including through our neighbourhoods work and our extensive community support funding programme, means we understand the vital role that community groups and volunteers play in society.

“We see first-hand the amazing work they do to improve their neighbourhoods, to create opportunities for people, and to foster community cohesion. They understand and care passionately about their communities and will often work tirelessly and with little recognition to support them.”

SPORTS TEAM OF THE YEARSponsored by RECOUP and Pledge2Recycle Plastics. Anne Stephenson, Business and Project Development Lead, said “We are delighted to be able to support the County Durham Together Awards.

“The Pledge2Recycle Plastics team has been working across County Durham throughout 2023 to encourage citizens of all ages to recycle more plastics and engage with communities to help them recycle right.  

“As in sport, recycling relies on everyone playing their part to ensure success.  With everyone’s support and commitment we can keep plastics out of the natural environment, enabling plastics packaging to have a second chance to be recycled into a new product.”

UNSUNG HERO – sponsored by New College Durham Academies Trust: Chief Executive, Linda Rodham, said: “As a local multi-academy trust, deeply committed to our community, we are honoured to sponsor the ‘Unsung Hero’ Award at the County Durham Together Awards for the first time. This reflects our ongoing investment in the county’s future through education. We are proud to contribute to growth, not just in our schools, but in the vibrant fabric of our county. Together we build a foundation for success and celebrate the achievements of the many unsung heroes in our community.”

HEALTH AND WELLBEING AWARD – sponsored by Occupational Health and Training Services: The business, based at Aycliffe Business Park, offers a full range of in-house, ad-hoc and clinic-based services for small, medium and large businesses. The company’s team can help manage the effects of health on work alongside the effects of work on health, allowing businesses to look after their workers and stay competitive.

Director Linda Jones said: “I saw the County Durham Together Awards and thought that looks like a really interesting way to get people to think about health and wellbeing because we deal with so many aspects of it in our business. We are really looking forward to the awards night – it will be lovely to be there with colleagues and have a way of saying ‘well done’ to so many people.”

ENVIRONMENT AWARD – sponsored by Cummins. A company spokesperson said: “As a global power technology leader, Cummins is dedicated to pioneering new technologies to sustainably power future generations. Our Destination Zero strategy aims to go further and faster – to reduce the greenhouse gas and air quality impacts of products.

“As a leader in our industry, Cummins has the incredible opportunity, and responsibility, to be part of the solution to the world’s climate challenges. Destination Zero is grounded in our commitment to sustainability and helping our customers navigate the energy transition.

“It is with that fundamental commitment in mind that we are delighted to again sponsor the Environment Award at the County Durham Together Awards. It is an event which shines a spotlight on the many positive aspects of life in the county and we are proud to be playing our part.”

PUBLIC SERVICE AWARD – sponsored by Castle View Group: Castle View Group is a proud North-East business, providing a vital public service by creating opportunities for thousands of motivated job-seekers across the country as one of the country’s fastest growing pre-employment training and recruitment providers.

The business, based in Chester-le-Street, was founded in 2001, initially as a recruitment services provider, and a training division was added ten years later. Castle View Group supports thousands of unemployed people back into work each year by working closely with employers and regional recruitment agencies. The company researches local recruitment needs, identifies suitable candidates for available roles, and provides job applicants with sector specific training and qualifications.

CARER OF THE YEAR – sponsored by County Durham Care Partnership: The County Durham Care Partnership has a strong track record in developing effective links between health, social care, and voluntary organisations across County Durham to improve people’s health, wellbeing, and experience of care. As an organisation at the heart of care in County Durham, the County Durham Care Partnership is the perfect sponsor for this important category.

VISITOR ECONOMY AWARD: This award recognises the vital role an individual, organisation, or business has played in promoting County Durham as a great place to visit.

KEY WORKER OF THE YEAR: This award will be presented to an individual who has gone beyond the requirements of their role to support public health and safety.

The Northern Echo: