THE cream of Sunderland gathered at the Stadium of Light for the Pride of Wearside awards.
The brave, the heroic, the courageous and kind-hearted filled the banqueting suite last night for the sixth annual awards, run by the Echo, which recognises the great and good of the city.
Among the inspirational winners was 10-year-old lifesaver Sophie McCabe, from Red House.
Cheers rang out around the room as the Castletown Primary School pupil stepped on stage to collect her Local Hero award.
The quick-thinking youngster has been hailed a heroine after saving mum Helen from slipping into a potentially fatal coma,
She had been told by her grandparents not to disturb the 31-year-old, who gave birth to son Charlie just weeks ago, as she took an afternoon nap.
But Sophie raised the alarm after hearing her mum moaning in pain, and rushed to her aid as she began fitting.
Sophie was shortlisted with the Brothers in Arms group, which has built a memorial war for servicemen and women in Burdon Road, and Kirsty McGurrell from the 4Louis charity, who helps families affected by stillbirth.
Readers have been voting since last week via text to decide on the overall winner of the Local Hero category and Sophie came up trumps.
Helen, who was diagnosed as being diabetic nine years ago, said: “I cannot believe it. I’m really proud of her. Everyone around the table was crying.
“Paramedics said if Sophie hadn’t helped me, I would have been dead within the hour.”
Sophie said: “It was quite scary coming here tonight. I didn’t know what to expect.
“I was so shocked to win and that people voted for me.”
The awards were attended by city dignitaries and SAFC stars Connor Wickham and John O’Shea.
“It was an honour to be invited here tonight and to hand out an award to people who put us in the background,” said Connor.
“It’ so important to recognise what people do for their community.
“There’s a real strong sense of community in Sunderland, and since I’ve moved here everyone has been so nice and helpful.
“I watch the Pride of Britain and it’s such an emotional award.
“It’s the same here. These are people who you wouldn’t normally hear about.”
Echo editor Rob Lawson said: “It’s been an absolutely fantastic evening, it makes you proud to be from Sunderland.
“It’s a reminder of what makes Sunderland so special and that’s the people.”
He added: “It’s not a particularly good time for newspapers with the Leveson Inquiry, but there’s a big difference between local and national newspapers.
“It’s nights like tonight that show local newspapers in a better light.
“We should be champions of the local community and that’s a role the Echo’s always taken very seriously.
“I want to congratulate all the winners, those shortlisted, and our very generous sponsors.”