AWARDS have been handed out to celebrate some of the area’s best sporting achievements of the last year.

The prizes were given out to individuals and clubs in the central Durham area as part of the County Durham Sports Awards, with fencers, footballers and swimmers among those taking the honours.

Club of the year was Durham-based Laszlo’s Fencing, while club member Duncan Rowlands won the award for sports performance of the year after winning the British veterans national championships and captaining the British team at European championships.

Football clubs in the area also celebrated success, with awards for Chester-le-Street Amazons Women’s head coach Shaun Ward, Durham United FC and Gary Brown, of Lumley FC, who was given an award for his contribution to sport.

There were also awards for swimmer Ellen Stephenson, who won seven gold medals and a silver at the Downs Syndrome Swimming Association World Championships, cyclist Audrey Christie, who leads bike rides around Durham as part of an initiative to get more women on two wheels, volunteer performance analyst Richard Hall, and Nicholas Cooper, who volunteers at North East Disability Swim Club.

The winner for the sport and physical achievement of the year was Helen Oxley, who has been completing gruelling challenges in memory of her son, who died of cancer aged 18.

All the winners are invited to attend the County Durham Sports Awards, which take place in January.