Every emotion was on display as the Mail hosted its first Pride Of Hartlepool Awards.
Young and old alike attended an emotional presentation evening at Hartlepool College of Further Education where the town’s unsung heroes were publicly honoured.
Fifteen awards were handed out to toddlers, pensioners and individuals and groups who have shown courage, bravery and good old-fashioned community values.
The awards went to youngsters from the age of two right through to pensioners with individuals and groups alike being applauded.
A standing ovation was given for devoted dad Ian Richardson who lost his wife and daughter in a tragic car smash. The 38-year-old couldn’t attend the ceremony but his award was collected by his mum, Lynn, who wiped away tears while picking up his Award For Inspiration from TFM Radio breakfast show presenter Wayne Allen who compered the evening.
Red Dreams founders Dawn and Ian McManus also shed a tear after winning the Local Hero award which was voted for by Mail readers.
Scores of entries were submitted for the inaugural awards which were launched to showcase, highlight and applaud the community spirit that often goes unnoticed.
More than 150 guests witnessed tales of bravery, courage, devotion and dedication at the emotive ceremony.
Those who were shortlisted warmly applauded and cheered the eventual winners in a show of genuine respect.
Ritchie Humphreys, Hartlepool United’s Player of the Century, attended the awards in what is a busy testimonial year for him and was the recipient of a Sporting Legend Award.
He admitted afterwards he had been moved by the sheer emotion of the ceremony and was “proud and honoured” to have been invited.
Mail editor Joy Yates said: “Award ceremonies such as this reflect the courage, commitment and community spirit that exists in Hartlepool.
“It was humbling to be in the company of such a wide range of people who have shown themselves to be so special.
“Everything they do and achieve is without any thought of reward or recompense and everyone who was nominated for an award was a true winner.
“I have no doubt these awards will become an important annual event and help to showcase and celebrate what is special about the town and its people.”
The awards were warmly embraced by local and regional businesses who supported them from day one.
More than a dozen companies backed the awards with recyclying firm Niramax a main sponsor of them.
Niramax sales and marketing manager Jemma Borthwick said: “We are proud to have been a primary backer of these amazing awards which have highlighted the fantastic community spirit that exists in Hartlepool. It was a fantastic evening of celebration.
“We are passionate about Hartlepool and the people of the town and it was brilliant to be involved in helping to showcase and highlight their amazing achievements and tales of courage.
“The Mail should be applauded for launching the first Pride of Hartlepool Awards which have been a massive success.”
l See tomorrow’s Mail for a two-page round-up of the awards with more pictures from last night’s ceremony.
l A special 12-page keepsake supplement will be published with your Mail on Wednesday, March 30.
Roll of honour
Tony Cooke - winner
Neighbourhoodies - winner
Joan Spoors (Hartlepool Stroke Support Group)
Hartlepool Round Table
Cath and Liz Torley - winner
Belle Vue Youth Club
Josh Cooper - winner
High Tunstall College of Science - winner
Rossmere Allotment Association
Friends of Seaton Station
STUDENT OF THE YEAR
Vicky Bown - winner
Shirley Black - winner
INTERNATIONAL SPORTING ACHIEVEMENT
Savannah Marshall - winner
FUNDRAISER OF THE YEAR
Stephen Picton - winner
Mark Rycraft and Hartlepool Round Table
LOCAL FORCES HERO
Tony Green - winner
CHILD OF ACHIEVEMENT
Alice Skinner - winner
Red Dreams - winner
Hartlepool Hospice volunteers
CHILD OF COURAGE
AWARD FOR INSPIRATION