THE blood, sweat and tears poured into years of training, hard work and sacrifice have been recognised as athletes of all ages and disciplines came together to celebrate grassroots sport.

Dedicated members of Darlington’s sports scene – including 11-year-old Alex Boyer and 83-year-old Ian Barnes – were among those honoured during the 42nd annual Darlington Sports Winners Scheme Awards.

Fourteen awards to competitors, clubs and teams were given out on the night, as well a poignant posthumous Special Achievement trophy for Paralympic hopeful Kieran Maxwell, who died last year.

The 18-year-old’s mother, Nicola, from Heighington, near Darlington, accepted the award to honour Kieran’s inspiring tenacity to sprint despite losing his leg to rare childhood cancer, Ewing’s sarcoma.

Fellow runner and swimmer, Alex, a pupil in Darlington's Holy Family School, was the overall winner on the night, after scooping the Primary Sports Achiever and Ron Lewis Award to mark his record-breaking two British biathlon wins.

He became the fourth fastest ten-year-old 1,500m freestyle swimmer in Great Britain and set the all-time Darlington parkrun 5k JM10 record in a time of 19 minutes and 39 seconds.

“I was very surprised to win especially when I listened to how good all of the other nominees were,” said Alex. “I’m really pleased. I love sport, especially the feeling of achievement you get you when you succeed.”

An audience of civic dignitaries, friends and family attended the ceremony in Darlington College.

Event director of Darlington parkrun, Mr Barnes, said he was “deeply honoured” to receive the Lee Vasey Lifetime Achievement Award.

The 83-year-old has been a member of Darlington Harriers for more than 60 years and holds the British record for over 80s at a mile and 3,000m – he also scooped the Services to Sport Over-17 Award.

The Harriers secured the Over-17s Club Award and the Councillor Brian Jones Trophy, with Longfield Academy Under-13 Table Tennis Team, St George’s School Football Team, and the Red Hall Primary School Little Leaps all receiving trophies.

Longfield student Ross Howell was recognised for his contribution to school sport alongside Carmel College student Layla Bell, as well as Darlington Mowden Park Girls and Darlington Under-8s Quakers.

Event organising committee member, Brian Dobinson, said: “I must acknowledge the hard work and commitment of the committee, who really enjoyed going through all the nominations, and the many people who've helped to make this scheme a success over the past 42 years.”