What an honour

David Kitchen, fourth from left back row, Mike Matthews, and Grace Franklin, front left with the other award winners
David Kitchen, fourth from left back row, Mike Matthews, and Grace Franklin, front left with the other award winners
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FOSTER carers, an inspirational youngster and a wildlife centre partner were among the local unsung heroes honoured at a civic awards ceremony.

Billingham Forum provided the backdrop for Stockton Borough Council’s third annual Civic Awards.

Martin and Ellen Wright, from Billingham, received the Carer/Foster Carer Award.

The couple have provided a much-needed loving and supportive environment to scores of children since they became carers over a decade ago in 2002.

Seven-year-old Grace Franklin, also from Billingham, scooped the Young Person’s Award for her fundraising efforts and inspirational attitude.

When Grace’s dad, Glen, was serving in the Army in Afghanistan she told him jokes to keep his spirits up in phone calls and internet chats on Skype.

Grace created her own children’s joke book which she sold for the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal.

Her efforts have raised around £700 so far

Another big winner on the night was David Kitchen, chairman of Teesside Environmental Trust.

He won the Green Award for his tireless work to develop RSPB Saltholme into the successful visitor attraction it has become.

And Joe Maloney, director of Billingham International Folklore Festival, will receive the Stockton Medal for his tireless work arranging and promoting the festival, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.

The winners were presented with their awards by the Mayor of Stockton, Councillor Kathryn Nelson.

She said: “It’s an honour for me to officially recognise the valuable contributions this year’s winners make to Stockton Borough.

“They all set an inspiring example for us to follow with the majority generously and freely giving their time and energy to make a difference to their local communities 
and to the borough as a whole.”