PICTURE SPECIAL: Local heroes are our Pride and joy!

IT was a night when ordinary people took centre-stage and were publicly thanked for making a difference in their community.

Despite the high-profile names who turned out to support the Pride of South Tyneside Awards 2013, it was the unsung heroes they were honouring who grabbed the limelight at the star-studded bash.

DELIGHT ...all the winners of the Pride of South Tyneside awards 2013.

DELIGHT ...all the winners of the Pride of South Tyneside awards 2013.

Many guests hailed the 11th annual ceremony – organised by the Gazette, South Tyneside Council and the Customs House, in South Shields – as “the best yet”.

As he opened the show, host Ray Spencer, executive director of the Customs House, said: “This is the night when we celebrate all that is good in our community in South Tyneside.”

The awards came thick and fast, with seven handed out before the interval, at the Temple Park Centre in South Shields, whose sports hall had been transformed into a giant marquee with beautifully dressed tables, stage area and dance floor.

The Young Performer(s) Of The Year nominees then took to the stage before The Waiters were crowned the winners, following in the footsteps of South Shields pop stars Jade Thirlwall, from girl group Little Mix, and Joe McElderry, who both attended the awards and signed autographs aplenty.

Last year’s winner, Abi Garrido, also took to the stage and when the last awards were handed out, people hit the dance floor as Joe brought the emotional ceremony to a close.

Gazette editor Joy Yates said: “The Gazette was really proud to be a partner in the awards, which proved to be as fantastic and spectacular as expected.

“Congratulations to all of the winners and everyone nominated. There is so much to be proud of in South Tyneside, whether you live here or work here.”

Coun Iain Malcolm, leader of South Tyneside Council, said: “The concept of the Pride awards is very simple; it is about honouring unsung heroes within our community, people who don’t get the limelight, but just get on with it.

“They are being recognised by their friends and neighbours and their community for the sterling work they do in the towns and villages that make up this fantastic borough.

“All the nominees are winners in my eyes.”

* Don’t miss our special 12-page Pride of South Tyneside Awards 2013 pull-out in today’s Gazette.