Pride of South Tyneside - the shortlist revealed

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TOMORROW will see the best of the borough honoured in a glittering ceremony as the Pride of South Tyneside Awards recognise the most caring, brave and talented amongst us.

Here we take a look at who is shortlisted for the awards.

For the last 10 years the Gazette has joined forces with South Tyneside Council and the Customs House to praise the borough’s unsung heroes - and there’s no shortage of people whose efforts deserve to be acknowledged.

From sporting stars to talented youngsters, and courageous children to those who contribute to their local communities, the awards celebrate those who make the borough great.

And tomorrow night they will be the toast of South Tyneside when we roll out the red carpet at Temple Park Centre in John Reid Road, South Shields.

Gazette editor John Szymanski, who sat on the judging panel to choose our worthy winners, said: “The judges had an extremely tough decision whittling down the excellent nominations we received this year.

“I want to offer my congratulations to all those who are shortlisted for what should be an exciting event tomorrow when the winners will be revealed.”

In the running for carer of the year is Joyce Butters.

The 63-year-old, of Belsay Avenue, South Shields, has looked after her son Paul, 42, who has profound learning disabilities.

And despite being physically disabled herself - she suffers from rheumatoid arthritis - she never grumbles.

Also shortlisted is gran-of-nine Noreen Willets, who has volunteered at the Charles Young Centre in Talbot Road, South Shields, for the last 11 years.

The 71-year-old, of Boldon Drive, West Boldon, worked at the centre for a decade prior to signing up as a volunteer, and is determined to keep the centre - which has lost its funding - from closing down.

Caroline Stewart, 40, of Tasmania Road in Brockley Whins, South Shields, is a full-time carer for husband, John, 41, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) in 2001.

Shortlisted for the Achieving Excellence award is actor James de Lauch Hay.

The 18-year-old, of Cleadon Meadows, Cleadon, has been accepted into three of the country’s most prestigious performing arts universities, Arts Educational School and The Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts, both in London, and Guildford School of Acting in Surrey.

Mellisa Sanders, of Larch Avenue, Whitburn was left for dead by a hit-and-run driver while on holiday with friends in Ibiza when she was 18.

Her mum, Christine, was told she wouldn’t survive the night, or if she did, she would be in a “vegetative state” for the rest of her life, unable to move, talk, or eat.

But Mellisa, now 23, has defied the odds and is able to stand and even take a few steps with the help of a walking frame.

Singer Jayne Welch is also shortlisted.

The 27-year-old, of St Andrew’s Street, Hebburn, is part of girl group Irresistible, who reached the semi-finals of Britain’s Got Talent in 2008.

Now she has turned her talents to helping youngsters build their confidence through performing, including X Factor winners Joe McElderry and Little Mix’s Jade Thirlwall, before they appeared on the show.

In the running to be named Child of Courage is little Sophie Burns.

The four-year-old, of Mountbatten Avenue, Hebburn, was born with a condition called Goldenhar syndrome, a rare congenital defect which results in the incomplete development of the ears, nose, soft palate, lips and jaw bone.

But despite meeting ill-health every day, the youngster is rarely seen without a smile on her face.

Also shortlisted is six-year-old Eleanor Bruce.

The brave youngster, from South Shields, lost her dad, Stephen, 40, to stomach cancer in January last year.

He died just 10 months after being diagnosed, but in that time raised more than £50,000 for South Shields charity, Cancer Connections.

Eleanor has carried on her dad’s legacy, becoming a regular fundraiser for the charity, based in Harton Lane.

Ewan Barry is also in the running for the award.

The 12-year-old, of Lindisfarne Road, Jarrow, has a rare spinal condition, a heart defect and a degenerative nervous system disorder.

His conditions have left him terminally ill, but his family have dubbed him an inspiration, saying he just “smiles through it all”.

Shortlisted for Community Group of the Year is the Materialistics.

The group of knitters, based at the Customs House in Mill Dam, South Shields, have used wool to recreate everything from a Victorian Christmas to fairytale characters.

Earlier this year their exhibition, Once Upon A Time, which highlights tales including the Jungle Book and The Hobbit, was shown at a special Diamond Jubilee show viewed by the Queen.

Community service Just-ICE abased at Action Station in Boldon Lane and Ocean Road Community Centre, both South Shields, was launched last year to provide emotional and practical support for mental health carers, giving them the opportunity to meet other people in a similar role.

South Tyneside Swimming Club, established in 1979, has more than 300 members and teaches people from the age of four.

The club, which trains at Hebburn and Boldon School swimming pools, was responsible for training Commonwealth champion and Olympic finalist Chris Cook, and had three swimmers contesting in Olympic and Paralmypic trials last month.

Shortlisted for the Greener South Tyneside award is walking enthusiast Eddie Findlay.

The 74-year-old, of Willow Grange, Jarrow, volunteers for Groundwork South Tyneside and Newcastle’s Walking Works Wonders project, leading healthy walks around his home town.

The Friends of West Park are also in the running.

The green-fingered volunteers have been working in the park, off Victoria Terrace and Park Road in Jarrow, for the last two years.

Also nominated is the Holder House Gardens Community Interest Project in Holder House Way, South Shields.

The community garden works with pupils from local schools, the elderly and people with physical and leaning disabilities to offer lessons in horticulture, recycling, crafts, husbandry and lots more.

Up for Role Model of the Year is swimmer Faye Pinder.

The 16-year-old, of Warwick Road, South Shields, is working towards her GCSEs at Mortimer Community College, but still trains 15 hours a week with South Tyneside Swimming Club.

The teenager recently went through Olympic trials.

Adrienne Wilson, 74, started working at Margaret Sutton School in Ashley Road, South Shields, in 1968 and stayed right up until the day she retired.

But even then the grandmother, of Marlborough Street North, South Shields, didn’t have the heart to give up her job, and continued volunteering three days a week.

Carol Hall has organised the Samaritan’s Purse appeal with the help of fellow churchgoers from the Salvation Army in Monkton Road, Jarrow, for the last 16 years.

The 58-year-old, from Jarrow, also gives talks in local schools to encourage children to take part in the Christmas Shoebox Appeal.

In the running for Sporting Excellence is Jarrow and Hebburn Athletic Club.

The club, based at Monkton Stadium in Dene Terrace, Jarrow, has been a starting block for young athletes for 75 years.

Jarrow Arrow Steve Cram was once a member and went on to set world records and win medals at the Olympics.

Also shortlisted is fencer Matthew Dickinson.

The-12-year-old, of Ravensbourne Avenue, East Boldon, has overcome dyspraxia - a condition which can affect the planning of movements and co-ordination as a result of brain messages not being accurately transmitted to the body - to be named British Young Champion.

He holds the prestigious title in his age group.

South Tyneside Swimming Club are also shortlisted for this award.

Up for the Safer Neighbourhoods award is Horsley Hill Young Person’s Group, based at Horsley Hill Community Association.

The teenagers undertook fire safety and crime prevention training with the Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service and Northumbria Police, then passed on what they had learned to groups of elderly people.

Also in the running is Operation Safe Stop, which was launched in 2008 as a joint operation between the police, the Youth Offending Service, and South Tyneside Council, and has since then seen just under 600 children taken into police protection, and anti-social behaviour drop by 40 per cent.

The West Shields Neighbourhood policing team is also shortlisted.

The team, made up of five police officers and four community support officers, watch over Whiteleas and Biddick Hall and have held a series of events to warn residents of the dangers of things like bogus callers.

Shortlisted for Young Performer of the Year is Lily Brooke Widdowson.

The 14-year-old, of Black Road, Hebburn, plays piano and sings, and is also learning to play guitar and drums.

Guitarist Annabel Pattinson is also shortlisted.

The 17-year-old, of Waterside Park, Hebburn, hosts her own buskers’ night at her local pub the Mill Tavern in Mill Lane, and writes her own songs.

Classical singer Sarah Ryan is also in the running for the award.

The 18-year-old, of Mill Lane, Hebburn, is grant funded by the Sage Gateshead and hopes to study at the Royal College of London.

Abi Garrido, of Mill Dene View, Jarrow, is also shortlisted.

The 14-year-old singer regularly performs at charity events and hopes that her voice will bring recognition to the area.

The Judges Special Awards recipient will be revealed on the night.

Don’t miss your Gazette on Monday for full coverage of tomorrow night’s glittering awards ceremony.

Twitter: @ShieldsGazVicki