And what a night it was as the cream of the area took to the stage to cheers and plenty of tears.
For the first time since 2019, the borough’s best have received Best of South Tyneside Awards and it was a truly emotional occasion.
A standing ovation rang out at the Roker Hotel as the posthumous award went to Karen Ratcliffe, who was known as ‘the face of the box office’ at South Shields’ Customs House – and much-loved for her community work, fundraising and kindness.
Five courageous children were honoured for their amazing bravery with Child of Courage Awards. They were;
:: Jack Lewis, from Jarrow, who was born eight years ago with his bowel, intestines and liver outside of his body. But determined Jack fought back to excel at school and qualify for the Dance World Cup in 2021.
:: South Shields youngster Alice Todd, seven, who has ectodermal dysplasia, a genetic condition which only affects one in every 25,000 people.
:: Kayleigh Brennan who has fought back twice from acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL).
:: Siblings Nathan and Chloe Curry. 10-year-old Nathan has acute lymphoblastic leukaemia but that did not stop him from taking on the Junior Great North Run last year. Sister Chloe has been an outstanding support for her brother.
South Tyneside has had some amazing community champions who went above and beyond during the pandemic and three of them were shortlisted in the Covid Hero category.
Paul Tann travelled each day from Jarrow in all weathers to help run the Key4 Life food bank in Boldon while Stephen Sullivan held his daily online ‘Storytime with Stevey’ sessions which attracted a 17,000 audience. Wor Vera (aka Deborah Taylor Smith), meanwhile, sang for free outside 150 care homes in 100 days.
Judges could not choose between them – so all three won.
Colin Rowell won the Special Recognition Award for 50 golden years in the music business including time spent as the stage manager for David Bowie at Wembley and production manager for Genesis at Knebworth.
What a night it was for dancer Max Walton who represented Team England in the Dance World Cup. He won the Young Performer of the Year trophy.
There was a highly commended placing in the category as well and it went to drama and musical theatre student Charlotte Leigh Harwood.
There were other winners too including Hebburn Town FC (Sports Team of the Year), Shah Lalon Amin (Local Hero), Wayne Groves (Fundraiser of the Year),
Williby Rocs CIC (Greener South Tyneside champions), Tara Johnson, Tailored Leisure (Entrepreneur of the Year), Hebburn Helps (Community Champion), and Metec Cathodic Protection Ltd (Business of the Year).
We will have much more on each of the winners in the Shields Gazette next week.
Every member of the judging panel agreed that the standard of entries was inspiring.
Our thanks go to the venue hosts at the Roker Hotel as well as all of the sponsors who have given outstanding backing to the event including South Tyneside Council, South Tyneside College, JML, and Harlow Printing.
Awards host Ray Spencer MBE said: “Wow well what a night it has been! I must say a huge congratulations to all our finalists, winners and of course to everyone who took the time to nominate them! What an incredible group of people you are and an inspiration to us all.
"Thank you once again to all of our sponsors and everyone who has been working away to make tonight happen. If it wasn’t for your hard work and support we wouldn’t be here so it really is greatly appreciated.”
The Shields Gazette was there to bring you full coverage of the event and watch out for a ‘post-awards night’ supplement with more interviews and photos in the paper next week.
Scroll of honour
Here are the winners of each category.
Child of Courage category - sponsored by South Tyneside College.
Nathan and Chloe Curry.
Community Champion - sponsored by South Tyneside Council.
Fundraiser of the Year.
Sports Team of the Year - Sponsored by Harlow Printing.
Hebburn Town Football Club.
Greener South Tyneside - Sponsored by Goldfinch.
Williby Rocs CIC.
Local Hero Award - Sponsored by Barbour.
Shah Lalon Amin.
Business of the Year.
Metec Cathodic Protection.
Entrepreneur of the Year - Sponsored by JML.
Tara Johnson, Tailored Leisure CIC.
Young Performer of the Year.
Max Walton (winner);
Charlotte Leigh Harwood (highly commended).
COVID Hero - Sponsored by Siemens.
Wor Vera (Deborah Taylor Smith).
The Shields Gazette was there to interview and photograph all of the winners. It will all be contained in a supplement in the paper on Thursday, May 5.