A Darlington-based rowing coach working at Teesside University has been commended by the BBC as an unsung hero.

Kate O’Sullivan, 60, from Darlington, has won the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award for Unsung Hero in the North East and Cumbria for her work in rowing 

Over the years, Kate has taken on various leadership, mentoring and coaching positions at Tees Rowing Club and Teesside University and recently secured funding from the Stephen Peel Rowing Foundation to establish the Infinity Boat Club, a charity which aims to boost social inclusion by bringing rowing to underserved communities in the Tees Valley.

As a winner of the regional Unsung Hero title, Kate has been invited to attend the live Sports Personality of the Year event on Tuesday, December 19. Now in its 70th year, the awards celebrate the very best of sport across the UK.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Kate O'Sullivan.

“It’s been a wild year, and I never thought in a million years I’d be ending it with this award,” said Kate.

“I have been watching Sports Personality of the Year for as long as I can remember, so it’s an honour and a privilege to have received the regional title let alone be on the stage at the live ceremony.

“There are so many sporting volunteers out there, and this category is really important in shining a light on the incredible work they do across the country to bring sport to local communities.”

The national winner of the Unsung Hero award will be announced on the evening, alongside the winners of the other categories including Team of the Year and Lifetime Achievement.

Kate will join famous sporting figures such as Frankie Dettori, Mary Earps and Rory McIlroy, who are among those in contention to win the main award.

This is another nod to Teesside University by the awards in recent years, whose graduate and football superstar Beth Mead was named Sports Personality of the Year at the event last year.