‘Gem of a man’ honoured as Best of South Tyneside winners named in night of high emotion

Winners at the Best of South Tyneside Awards 2018
Winners at the Best of South Tyneside Awards 2018

A ‘gem’ of a man - who inspired a new generation of young footballers - has been honoured at the emotional finale of the Best of South Tyneside Awards

A standing ovation was given to Sean Simpson, who inspired youngsters through his soccer camps at Marine Park Primary School in South Shields.

Tragically, Sean, 50, died in August this year but his memory lives on among the hundreds of children he taught - and in the Posthumous Special Award announced last night.

Gazette readers described him as a ‘gem’ and a ‘lovely man’ when they paid tribute to him in the summer.

The award to him last night was one of 16 given to worthy causes on a night of high emotion.

Time after time, moving stories were read out of people who had inspired, motivated and led from the front in their community.

Time after time, moving stories were read out of people who had inspired, motivated and led from the front in their community

Gazette reporter

Five remarkable youngsters won Child of Courage awards.

They were;

n Bryony Murtaugh, the South Shields 10-year-old hailed for her incredible bravery after surviving the Manchester Arena terror attack.

n Roman Hansen, from South Shields, who at seven months old is undergoing the fight of his life as he tackles a rare cancer called pleuropulmonary blastoma.

The award for Sean Simpson was received by his bother Steve and dad Bob

The award for Sean Simpson was received by his bother Steve and dad Bob

n Imogen Carr, also from South Shields, who took her first steps on a prosthetic limb just 10 weeks after she had to have part of her left leg amputated.

n Toby Horner. The five-year-old from Hebburn has a complex mixed form of cerebral palsy and faces a treatment programme which includes physiotherapy, and speech and language therapy every day, and hydrotherapy every week.

n Gracie Gillies, who found out aged 7, that she had Type 1 Diabetes. She now does her own finger pricks, her own injections and has won awards for her dancing.

Tony Carlisle, the man who has run The Great North Dog Walk for 29 years, won the Lifetime Contribution Award.

Best of South Tyneside 2018 award for Special recognition went to Colin Burgin-Plews, pictured here with editorial director Joy Yates.

Best of South Tyneside 2018 award for Special recognition went to Colin Burgin-Plews, pictured here with editorial director Joy Yates.

And Colin Burgin-Plews, the man known to the world as Big Pink Dress for his remarkable fundraising, received the Special Recognition Award.

The evening was graced by performances from each of the Young Performer of the Year finalists before 12-year-old South Shields singer Amelia Saleh was announced as this year’s winner.

And the honours just kept on coming.

Catherine Brettell is only 11 and was diagnosed with a hole in the heart. Now she’s our Fundraiser of the Year for her support for the hospital heart unit which helped her.

Ian Farrar’s very modern outlook on business - which includes interviews across Facebook, Twitter and YouTube - saw him crowned Entrepreneur of the Year.

Hebburn-based South Tyneside Ability FC are the Community Group of the Year champions in a category where Hebburn Helps were highly commended.

Child of Courage award winners at the Best of South Tyneside Awards 2018

Child of Courage award winners at the Best of South Tyneside Awards 2018

Lucy Bell, 18, from East Boldon took the Student of the Year title while Irene Lawson - who runs the Hebburn-based XL group which supports adults with learning disabilities and their carers - is Volunteer of the Year.

Holder House Gardens in South Shields and Jarrow, were the Greener South Tyneside winners for offering people a green way to relax and learn at the same time.

And Rose Blair, who at eight-year-old has been crowned British Ballet Champion - twice, won the Child of Achievement title.

Congratulations to the Sports Team of the Year winners - the South Shields RFC who won rugby union’s Durham/Northumberland Three league which included a 19-game winning run.

Nathan McCarthy took the Sporting Excellence trophy. He’s a 25-year-old kickboxer who holds British, European and World titles.

And Liam Helmerson, from Hebburn, who was chosen as our Young Sportsperson of the Year after winning gold at the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Junior World Championships.

Congratulations to them all and there’s much more to come in a packed eight-page supplement in the Shields Gazette next Wednesday, filled with interviews and photographs of the winners.

The winners

Child of Courage, sponsored by BT South Tyneside

Bryony Murtaugh, Roman Hansen, Imogen Carr, Toby Horner, Gracie Gillies

Fundraiser of the Year, sponsored by The Shields Gazette

Catherine Brettell

Entrepreneur of the Year, sponsored by JML


Ian Farrar

Community Group Of the Year, sponsored by Warmseal

Winner; South Tyneside Ability FC. Highly commended; Hebburn Helps

Student of the Year, sponsored by South Tyneside College

Lucy Bell

Volunteer of the Year, sponsored by The Shields Gazette

Irene Lawson

Greener South Tyneside, sponsored by Northumbrian Water

Holder House Gardens

Child of Achievement, sponsored by Barbour

Rose Blair

Sports Team of the Year, sponsored by UTS


South Shields RFC

Sporting Excellence Award, sponsored by Harlow Printing

Nathan McCarthy

Young Sportsperson of the Year, sponsored by The Shields Gazette

Liam Helmerson

Young Performer of the Year, sponsored by Warmseal

Amelia Saleh

Lifetime Contribution Award, sponsored by UTS 


Tony Carlisle

Special Recognition Award, sponsored by The Shields Gazette

Colin Burgin-Plews

Posthumous Special Award, sponsored by The Shields Gazette

Sean Simpson