All set for Local Heroes Awards night

Darlington and Stockton Times: LAST YEAR'S WINNERS: Kat Copeland and Josef Craig were crowned joint overall winners at the 2012 Local Heroes Awards LAST YEAR'S WINNERS: Kat Copeland and Josef Craig were crowned joint overall winners at the 2012 Local Heroes Awards

THE biggest event in the North-East grassroots sport calendar takes place tonight as the Dolphin Leisure Centre in Darlington stages The Northern Echo’s Local Heroes Awards.

The annual ceremony celebrates sporting achievement from right across the region, and provides a spotlight for the unsung heroes who are often overlooked.

Last year, Olympic champion Kat Copeland and Paralympic gold medallist Josef Craig were crowned joint winners of the overall Local Hero award, and the competition for this year’s trophy has been as fierce as ever.

Northern Echo editor Peter Barron, who is the compere for this evening’s ceremony, said: “Every year we seem to get stories and nominations that are more inspiring and emotional than ever, and this year is no exception.

“It was an extremely difficult job just to whittle the nominations down to a shortlist of three for each category, and choosing the winners was an even tougher task.

“It’ll be a fantastic night and, as ever, we’re grateful to our sponsors and sporting celebrities for their support.”

Some leading North-East names will be in attendance this evening, including Sunderland FA Cup legends Jimmy Montgomery and Bobby Kerr, Middlesbrough chief executive Neil Bausor, Hartlepool United boss Colin Cooper, Olympic footballer Steph Houghton and Darlington boxer Stuart Hall. Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew is also hoping to attend.

As well as honouring the stars of grassroots sport, it is also hoped this evening’s ceremony will raise £10,000 for charity thanks to a partnership between The Northern Echo and the County Durham Community Foundation.

Future Sport, a charity that gives grants to children to help them make their way in sport, will be awarded £5,000, with another £5,000 being awarded to a single sporting organisation to help with a major project.

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