WHO makes you proud? We’re looking for the kind, the brave, the selfless and the determined to take part in the one night of the year which gives them the recognition they so richly deserve. And we need YOUR help.
Now in its eighth year, the Pride of Wearside Awards is your chance to give a huge pat on the back to a relative, friend, fellow Mackem or colleague who goes that extra mile to make a difference.
Across the ten categories, we aim to celebrate everyone from a Child of Achievement and a Green Champion to a Fundraiser of the Year and a Role Model.
But we need you to help us unearth our heroes. Entries are now open for this year’s awards which will culminate in an awards ceremony at the Stadium of Light on November 20.
We are looking for people like Kian Armstrong, four, from Castletown.
The inspirational youngster, who is fighting cancer, has touched the hearts of Wearside by smiling through his illness.
So much so, that last year he was named as one of our Children of Courage winners.
After being diagnosed with neuroblastoma 18 months ago, the Castletown Primary School pupil has undergone a catalogue of gruelling treatment including high-intensity chemotherapy, a seven-and-half hour operation to remove a tumour in his stomach, a six-month course of immunotherapy treatment to wipe out his immune system and build it up again, stem cell harvesting and more.
His family had hoped he’d beaten the disease when his treatment finished this summer but further tests revealed that a 6mm growth still remains. Kian is now in the middle of radiotherapy treatment in the hope of finally ridding his body of the disease.
Despite it all, Kian still has an infectious sense of fun and mum Jemma, 30, says that last year’s award ceremony was a highlight of the schoolboy’s year.
“It was a great night out for us, Kian absolutely loved it,” said the mum-of-four.
“We made friends with some of the other Children of Courage who we are still in contact with now and Kian was really excited to have his photo taken with SAFC players Wes Brown and Alex Gorrin.
“He wasn’t much of a football fan before, but he loves it now. He has that photo up in his room and he says he wants to be a footballer when he grows up.” She added: “It was a really special night for us and I’m sure whoever wins this year will have a fantastic time too.”
There are ten categories in total: Child of Achievement, Community Champion, Child of Courage, Safer Community, Sporting Achievement, Community Group, Fundraiser of the Year, Local Hero/Role Model, Green Champion and Student of the Year.
Echo editor John Szymanski said: “The Pride of Wearside Awards are always a highlight of our year. There are some great people in this city, ordinary people who do the extraordinary.
“This is a chance to give people who are courageous, who go the extra mile, who make a difference in their community their moment in the spotlight.
“We have received so many uplifting, posting and heart-warming nominations over the years and we’re looking forward to seeing who readers put forward this year.”
The categories this year are:
Local Hero/ Role Model
Sponsored by Sunderland Partnership and Gentoo
This award recognises individuals who have demonstrated outstanding achievement and bravery while serving for our country or in the local community.
This person will have shown real pride, courage and bravery perhaps in a difficult / life-threatening situation. They may have overcome real adversity and trauma while serving the nation or someone who people look up to in everyday life.
Sponsored by Alex Smiles
This award recognises a person or group of people who actively work/live/promote green issues and green living to the benefit of the community. It could include individuals or a group who have made a conscious decision to live or work greener, a person within an organisation or work place who has improved the living or working environment by promoting green practice or a school/college/group or initiative that has had a positive impact in the Wearside community through a green project.
The projects could include things like recycling initiatives increasing environmental awareness, reducing water wastage or carbon footprint.
Student of the Year
This award recognises individuals who have achieved success in the education system.
The judges are looking for individuals who have achieved results that many thought previously unachievable. It can be from achieving excellent grades at school, sixth form or university, overcoming learning difficulties through the education process, through to doing a further education course later in life just because they wanted to.
It’s the journey we are looking for.
Fundraiser of the Year
Sponsored by Metro Radio
This award recognises individuals/groups who, by their hard work and dedication, have made a difference to a charity or cause.
The judges are looking for individuals or groups who have demonstrated continued commitment to a charity or individual through fundraising support and successfully managed or co-ordinated fundraising events while using initiative to maximise the impact of fundraising campaigns, giving their own time and effort to help out a good cause.
This award recognises individuals/groups at the heart of communities to deliver improvements and change with lasting benefits.
The judges are looking for individuals/groups which have tackled anti-social behaviour, invested in community facilities, created community groups, developed integrated communities and improved aesthetic appeal.
This award recognises individuals who have proved outstanding achievement in a specific sporting field.
Not only does it recognise sporting skill but also recognises drive, ambition, and determination even through the face of adversity.
The award will be made to an individual who demonstrates exceptional sporting talent and determination. The judges will assess the background history of the person, and the achievement he/she has made within sport and where applicable to personal challenges.
Sponsored by Calsonic Kansei
We are looking for a group of people, whether they are paid or volunteers, who have made a real difference in the community. The award will be made to a group whose time, effort, support and aspirations have improved an area in Wearside for the benefit of those who live, work and play there.
Community Champion Sponsored by Gentoo
An individual who may have been a good friend and who has supported you and/or family, or who you think has made a significant contribution to your community. This person may be someone who has cared for you, a friend or family member.
Child of Achievement
Sponsored by Castle View Enterprise Academy
We are looking for a child who has demonstrated exceptional achievement in their life. They may have overcome great odds or made sacrifices above and beyond the call of duty.
The nominee may have excelled academically, achieved great sporting success, raised money for a good cause, or been a great support to someone.
Child of Courage
We are looking for a child who has shown exceptional courage in their life. They may have overcome great odds or made sacrifices above and beyond the call of duty.
The nominee may have shown courage in dealing with an illness or battling through a traumatic experience. Judges would like to see strong evidence of this individual showing great character and fortitude in their life.