SLIDESHOW: A proud night for Hartlepool

MEET the people who put the pride into Hartlepool.

From a true hero who battled through adversity, to children who overcame amazing hurdles with a smile on their faces.

Ruff Diamond pictured with two young fans.

Ruff Diamond pictured with two young fans.

They all collected trophies at the Pride of Hartlepool Awards on a night of high drama at Hartlepool Sixth Form College.

Most of the audience were moved to tears by the story of Craig Winspear, 30, the Hartlepool soldier who lost both legs after falling on a live bomb in Afghanistan in December, 2011.

His life hung by a thread, but he fought back and now hopes to become a Paralympian. His father Paul collected the award and said: “All the entries have been amazing and it must have been very difficult to pick a winner. Even to be nominated is a big thing.”

There were stories of amazing bravery from the four winners of our Child of Courage award.

Talia Sarah Foster, aged four, tackled epilepsy and respiratory problems; Battling Emily Crosby, 13, had one of the worst cases of scoliosis doctors had ever seen; Beau Snowdon, aged six, battled the genetic disorder Kabuki Syndrome; and Adam Butterfield, aged four, has Emanuel Syndrome which affects every cell in his body.

There was sporting hero Heather Richardson, 17, who kept winning international swimming medals despite having a pin and four screws inserted into her thigh bone which was snapped in a road smash.

There was performer of the year Fleur Houdijk, still just 15 and already a star of two West End musicals.

There’s the inspirational Michael Day who set up the Miles For Men fundraising run, raising £40,000 in its first year in 2012. Now it’s a national phenomenon.

And there’s the RNLI Hartlepool, the winners of the Emergency Services awards and whose lifeboat crews have completed 47 rescue missions in the last year alone.

There were special recognition awards, one for boxing star Savannah Marshall, a world champion in her field; and one for Hartlepool Families First (a community project helping hundreds of town parents and their children). They picked up a trophy awarded in memory of Hartlepool Mail head of news Paul Watson.

Paul Thompson, from Families First, said: “Paul Watson had a big place in our hearts. He was a really good friend and we are immensely grateful for everything he did.”

Ruff Diamond collected a special recognition award for their success in the Sky 1 Got To Dance finals - and then put on a wonderful dance routine.

And there was much more besides! Read more in a special supplement in your Hartlepool Mail on Wednesday, March 27.