Community heroes to be honoured

Last year's winner Kaitlyn Soden, with group editor Paul Larkin.
Last year's winner Kaitlyn Soden, with group editor Paul Larkin.

Unsung community heroes will be honoured for their dedication, bravery and commitment at tonight’s glittering Best of Northumberland Awards ceremony.

Over the last two months, we have encouraged readers to put forward individuals and groups in the county who go above and beyond the call of duty and show incredible strength and drive.

Nominations poured in across all 12 categories before the August 27 deadline and the judges met last week to decide on the winners.

Now, the waiting is almost over and our community champions will be presented with their awards during this evening’s ceremony, which takes place at the Macdonald Linden Hall, in Longhorsley.

As part of the awards, Northumberland College has agreed to sponsor the Child of Achievement category.

Last year’s winner was Kaitlyn Soden, from Ellington. Despite suffering from sensory problems, learning difficulties, co-ordination issues and deafness, she showed great determination to organise a series of fund-raising events, she learnt to swim and built up her confidence and social skills.

Gillian Symington, marketing and communications director at Northumberland College, said: “As a college, we are proud supporters of the inaugural Best of Northumberland Awards and in particular the Child of Achievement Award that further encourages our college approach, which is to treat students as individuals and offer opportunities to excel.”

Northumberland College is the largest provider of further education courses in the county.

It has campuses in Ashington, Kirkley Hall, Hexham, Berwick, Port of Blyth and Carlcroft Farm.

Organised by Northeast Press – publishers of the Northumberland Gazette, Morpeth Herald, News Post Leader, as well as Tweeddale Press’s Berwick Advertiser – the annual Best of Northumberland Awards are a celebration of bravery, determination, commitment and achievement.

The awards are split into 12 categories, recognising a cross-section of local heroes.

Categories in this year’s event, as well as Child of Achievement, are Sporting Achievement; Community Group; Community Champion; Child of Courage; Emergency Services Award; Role Model; Green Champion; Fund-raiser of the Year; Good Neighbour; Volunteer of the Year; Lifetime Contribution.

The headline sponsor is The Banks Group, which is also sponsoring the Green Champion award.

Looking ahead to this evening’s event, Paul Larkin, who is editor of the Gazette, Herald, Advertiser and News Post Leader, said: “The Best of Northumberland Awards ceremony is a prestigious occasion and it provides the chance to honour, recognise and celebrate our unsung community heroes. It is one of the highlights of our year.”

○ See next week’s paper for report and picture special feature.