A momentous year – when a town rallied together for its football club – has been heralded at the Best of Hartlepool Awards.
The highs and lows of a club facing extinction were endured by fans, officials and players during 2018.
But the way the town fought back to save Hartlepool United was honoured last night at the emotionally charged awards.
The Fight To Save Pools made headlines all over the world. Last night, it was recognised through the Outstanding Contributions Award presented by the Mail to everyone from fundraisers to management and campaigners.
Joy Yates, Hartlepool Mail editorial director, presented the award to Hartlepool United chief executive Mark Maguire, Hartlepool United owner and chairman Raj Singh, club director Ian Scobbie and club president Jeff Stelling.
But that was just one of the highlights on an emotional night when more than 20 deserving winners got the recognition they deserved at a ceremony held at the Hardwick Hall Hotel, Sedgefield.
Community champions, local sporting stars, courageous children and outstanding fundraisers, all collected honours.
A packed audience heard incredible stories of achievement from each of the nominees.
Highlights included all four finalists in the Children of Courage category picking up trophies. They were:
l Four-year-old Dottie O’Keefe, from Rossmere, has cerebral palsy, but has made amazing progress towards her dream of walking;
l Twelve-year-old Neisha Webb, from West View Road, Hartlepool, was born with part of one leg missing, but has become a talented cheerleader against the odds;
l Eight-year-old Alex Grant, from Greatham, who has an ear condition called microtia that renders him completely deaf on one side and is hoping to undergo surgery abroad to restore his hearing;
l And two-year-old Daisy Sayers, from Peterlee, who is undergoing treatment for cancer acute lymphoblastic leukaemia – a cancer of the blood and bone marrow.
They all got standing ovations at the finals night.
Lifetime Contribution Award winner Calvyn Whitehand was honoured for the way he has changed the lives of hundreds of rookie sailors.
Year after year, he has given children a sailing adventure they could only ever dream about as the skipper of the Hartlepool-based tall ship Black Diamond of Durham.
The audience was also moved by the efforts of Emergency Services Award winners Jason Pool, Lisa Jones, Kelly Percival and Lyndsey Hepburn who helped to save a man’s life after he was stabbed following a robbery.
And the Special Award was also posthumously awarded to hospital campaigner Keith Fisher for his dedication to the town.
The honour was accepted on his behalf by his son Mike Fisher, the star of TV show Police Interceptors.
On the night, the audience was also treated to performances from our Young Performer nominees with VA Senior Dancers taking home the overall title.
America’s Got Talent star and former Best of Hartlepool Award winner Courtney Hadwin was there to present the award and tell the audience about her amazing experience as a contestant on the hit US show.
Zac Healey, who took street dance crew Rough Diamond Company to world fame, also wowed the audience with a performance.
Other award winners included:
l Throston Primary School who won the Green Champion award;
l Child of Achievement winner Lewin Tubuna;
l Fundraisers of the Year Stephen Shearer, Kev Robson, Graham Dale, Nigel Carr, Sean Allison, Russ Welsh,
l Student of the Year Niamh Hogan;
l Sporting Excellence winner Savannah Marshall;
l Volunteer of the Year Charlie Coomer,
l Community Group winners were the Heugh Gun Battery Museum,
l This year’s Community Champion was Jennifer Kerridge,
l Sports Team of the Year was the Hartlepool Hawks Cheerleading Academy,
l And Carer of the Year was Michelle Banks.
Thanks also go to all of our sponsors for making the awards happen.
They are Stagecoach North East; Tilly Bailey & Irvine; The Northern School of Arts; Hart Biologicals; Joel D. Kerr Funeral Services; Utility Alliance Ltd and Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees Clinical Commissioning Group.
l Watch out for interviews and more photographs from the night in a supplement in the Hartlepool Mail on Wednesday, November 28.
The winners in full:
Fundraiser of the Year sponsored by Hartlepool Mail
Stephen Shearer, Kev Robson, Graham Dale, Nigel Carr, Sean Allison, Russ Welsh
Community Group sponsored by Joel D Kerr Funeral Services
Heugh Gun Battery Museum
Student of the Year sponsored by The Northern School of Arts
Volunteer of the Year sponsored by Hartlepool Mail
Carer of the Year sponsored by the Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees Clinical Commissioning Group
Green Champion sponsored by Stagecoach North East
Throston Primary School
Role Model sponsored by Hartlepool Mail
Community Champion sponsored by Joel D Kerr Funeral Services
Child of Achievement sponsored by Tilly Bailey and Irvine
Sports Team of the Year sponsored by Hartlepool Sixth Form College
Hartlepool Hawks Cheerleading Academy
Sporting Excellence sponsored by Hart Biologicals
Young Performer of the Year sponsored by Hartlepool Mail
VA Senior Dancers
Child of Courage sponsored by Utility Alliance Ltd
Emergency Services Award sponsored by English Martyrs School and Sixth Form College
Jason Pool, Lisa Jones, Kelly Percival and Lyndsey Hepburn
Lifetime Contribution Award sponsored by Hartlepool Mail
Special Award sponsored by Hartlepool Mail
Outstanding Contributions Award sponsored by Hartlepool Mail
The Fight To Save Pools