A FORMER mineworker has won an award for helping to remove the legacy of mining from the east Durham coast.

Denis Rooney, of Seaham, a former maintenance fitter at Dawdon Colliery, now a National Trust warden, has been named Countryman of the Year by the magazine Country Life.

The coast and countryside manager has seen the six miles of coastline for which he is responsible transformed in recent years.

Coal slag dumped on the beaches has been removed, and new life breathed into the area through the £10m Turning the Tide project.

Liz Fisher, National Trust area manager for County Durham, said: "When Denis started work, the cliffs and beaches were one vast coal tip.

"Denis is a local man who understands the area and its people - his hands-on approach has helped make the coast somewhere to be enjoyed by locals and visitors alike."

Mr Rooney said: "I say to people, 'this is your coast. What do you want to do about it'.

"I try to get one or two people on my side and hope the message gets through. So far it's working, but you have to be patient.''