CARING teenagers who supported a friend during his battle with cancer are among dozens recognised in a national awards programme.

The Diana Awards, which reward inspirational young people, were presented in a ceremony in London on Tuesday (July 1).

Recipients have invested a huge amount of time and energy to improve the lives of others.

The awards are given in memory of Princess Diana and have five categories for individuals and groups aged between nine and 18.

Among those recognised were 16-year-old Luke Bowes and Bethannie Smith, 13, from Hummersknott Academy, in Darlington.

Both offered great support to fellow student Kieran Maxwell, who is in remission after being diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer.

Luke was chosen in the 'courageous citizen' category for the academic support he gave Kieran.

Bethannie was honoured in the 'champion fundraiser' section for her support of the charitable trust set up in Kieran's name.

The awards were set up as a legacy following Princess Diana's death and stand as a testament to her belief that young people have the power to change the world for the better.

More than 42,000 young people have received awards since 1999.

Other North-East youngsters recognised this year include:

* Matthew Highley, 14, of Belmont Community School, Durham, who cares for his older brother, who has Down's syndrome;

* Sophie Allen and Caitlin Hogg, both 15, and Gemma Feng, 16, of All Saints Academy, Stockton, members of the school's anti-bullying programme;

* Ashley Smith, 16, of Redcar Academy, who has raised awareness of the issues faced by youngsters with autism.

Awards chief executive Tessy Ojo said: "These young people come from all walks of life and many have challenging backgrounds, however they share a sense of social responsibility.

"Through our training programmes, we motivate them to continue contributing their communities.”

Hummersknott principal Pat Howarth said: "We are tremendously proud of Luke and Bethannie.

"The support they gave Kieran, in their free time, has been a real credit to them.

“They have gone out of their way to make a positive contribution to someone who has been through so much in his young life.

"We are very proud of them and delighted their efforts have been recognised."

Awards were handed out by TV stars Jordan O'Keefe (Britain's Got Talent) and Hannah Barrett (X Factor).