HERE they are – the people who make you proud.
The cream of the city gathered at the Stadium of Light for our annual Pride of Wearside awards.
There wasn’t a dry eye in the house as the audience listened to tales of bravery, determination, kindness and courage in the face of unimaginable adversity.
Among the winners was teenager Tonibeth Purvis, 15, from Barmston, Washington, who was given a posthumous Editor’s Choice Award after she died in July trying to save the life of her drowning school friend, Chloe Fowler, 14.
It’s a tragedy which touched the hearts of Wearside and Echo Editor John Szymanski said the Oxclose Academy pupil deserved special recognition after she was nominated in the awards by relation Allan Tutty.
Mr Szymanski said: “Last night was a fantastic event with so many inspiring and moving tales of Wearsiders achieving extraordinary things.
“The awards were specifically set up to make sure we honour those in the community whose efforts would normally go unrecognised or unheralded.
“I congratulate the shortlisted entrants and winners for their courage, determination and will to succeed.
“They should be very proud of themselves – and last night showed how they really deserve to be acclaimed as the Pride of Wearside.”
Also among the roll call of winners was Bobby Turnbull, from Blackhall, County Durham, who was given the Role Model award.
The 24-year-old has thrown himself into campaigning against flawed firearm licence guidelines, after losing three of his close family members to gunman Michael Atherton.
The greenkeeper’s mum Alison, 44, sister Tanya, 24, and aunt Susan McGoldrick, 47, were murdered by gunman Atherton in the 2012 New Year’s Day shootings in Horden, County Durham.
“It’s a real honour to be even be nominated,” said Bobby. “I’m stunned.”
Judges couldn’t choose just one inspirational young person to win the Child of Courage award, so gave it to six youngsters: Frankie and Kayne Mould, Heather Smith, Layla Davis, Bryant Hackett and Bradley Lowery.
There were special cheers for transplant patient Bryant, 13, from Hylton Castle, and two-year-old Bradley, from East Durham, who has neuroblastoma, as both children were too poorly to attend.
•For more stories, video and pictures from the awards, see the Echo tomorrow and Saturday.
Child of Achievement, sponsored by Castle View Enterprise Academy: Lewis Hair
Community Champion, sponsored by Gentoo: Joanne Fearn
Child of Courage, sponsored by Galleries Shopping Centre: Frankie and Kayne Mould, Heather Smith, Layla Davis, Bryant Hackett, Bradley Lowery
Safer Community, sponsored by Sunderland Echo: Connor Rowntree
Sporting Achievement, sponsored by SAFC: Glenn Foot
Community Group, sponsored by Calsonic Kansei: Town End Farm Residents’ Association
Special Recognition: Staff at Barnwell School
Fundraiser of the Year, sponsored by Metro Radio: Deano Franciosy
Local Hero/Role Model, sponsored by Sunderland Partnership: Bobby Turnbull
Special Award: Pat Burn
Editor’s Choice Award, sponsored by Station Taxis: Tonibeth Purvis
Green Champion, sponsored by Alex Smiles Ltd: Zoe Jones, Victoria Lamb, Ellie Clark and Samantha Harris
Student of the Year, sponsored by Sunderland Echo: Lorna Maddison