What a night of heroes.
The Best of South Tyneside Awards came to an incredible finale as the borough’s champions picked up well-deserved honours.
The annual competition, held at the Quality Hotel in Boldon, recognised the amazing achievements of unsung heroes.
This year the awards were particularly poignant following the devastating loss of young sweethearts Chloe Rutherford and Liam Curry in the Manchester terror attack.
As a tribute to them, two extra special awards were given to the winner of the Young Performer of the Year and Young Sportsperson of the Year categories in recognition of the couple’s talents.
There was a £500 award to each winner to help them nurture their talents in the field.
This year’s special winners were songstress Ellie Stephenson, who took home the Young Performer of the Year award–sponsored by Port of Tyne – for her beautiful voice and for her inspiring recovery back to health after suffering a mini-stroke when she was just 12.
Billy Luther, a registered British show jumper, was awarded the Young Sportsperson for coming a long way in the sport with a home- produced pony.
Among the numerous highlights of the night was the emotional moment when guests gave a standing ovation to the winners of the Child of Courage award.
l Jessica Jade Foreman who has gone through numerous operations after being born with congenital diaphragmatic agenesis – a defect of the diaphragm.
l Bethany Potts, who has been a tower of strength for her mum, who lost her boyfriend Carl in a swimming tragedy.
l And siblings Ted Elliott and Eva Elliott, who are there for each other no matter what life throws at them. Ted is just a few months old but has already undergone four operations on his eyes after being diagnosed with a rare sight condition from birth.
Other winners included Callum Amess, who was presented with the Special Recognition Award for the way he bravely stepped into the shoes of his friend Liam Curry as captain of Marsden Cricket Club Under-19s following his friend’s tragic death.
Ant Clennan was presented with the Role Model of the Year title; while 96-year-old Jim Purcell was honoured with the Lifetime Contribution Award for taking part in the Great North Run every year to raise funds for charity.
The winners just kept on coming with John Guy as Community Champion, Malcom and Jill Osborne collecting the Volunteer of the Year award; and Hospitality and Hope was named the Community Group of the Year.
Both Dylan Simpson and James Bassett won the Child of Achievement Award, while Lee Tiffin is the Fundraiser of the Year.
Chris Mann won the Sporting Excellence title; South Shields Football Club received the Sports Team of the Year Award; Bilton Hall CIO won the Greener South Tyneside title and Sarah Murray from The Little Play Cafe was Entrepreneur of the Year.
The line-up also included the Student of the Year title, which went to Emily and Sophie McKerill and the Carer of the Year trophy was awarded to Jayne Plummer.
Thanks once again go to our headline sponsor Siemens and category sponsors Harlow Printing; Northumbrian Water; Barbour; JML; Port of Tyne; The Customs House and South Shields Football Club.
l Watch out for a full pull-out supplement next Wednesday, featuring interviews and photographs of all of the winners.