THE CREAM of the city gathered at the Stadium of Light last night to recognise the Wearsiders who make us proud.
Now in its seventh year, the Pride of Wearside awards recognise the grit, determination, passion and courage of the people in our city who go the extra mile.
There wasn’t a dry eye in the house as the Children of Courage stepped on stage to collect their awards.
Judges couldn’t choose between the eight children nominated for the award so gave them all a trophy.
Among those to be awarded was Kian Armstrong, three, from Castletown.
After the Echo received a number of nominations for the toddler, he was recognised for his courage in his ongoing battle with neuroblastoma.
The youngster is in the midst of treatment for the cancer, which has so far seen him undergo surgery to remove a tumour and a high intensity course of chemotherapy, encountering a catalogue of problems along the way.
He is joined on the roll call of winners by Jack Baird, from Ryhope.
The two-year-old, who has rare Sanfilippino Syndrome, has touched the hearts of Wearsiders after the Echo reported that his family is hoping to raise £580,000 to fund pioneering treatment.
The toddler is not expected to live past his teenage years as he gradually deteriorates but a new drug could offer him the chance of survival.
Echo acting editor Richard Ord said: “The Pride of Wearside Awards always deliver positive, uplifting and heart-warming stories and this year has been no exception. We really appreciate Sunderland Echo readers for taking the time to nominate the unsung heroes in their community who are making a difference.
“The awards are one of the highlights of the year and we have been overwhelmed by the support. Each and everyone nominated has played their part in putting the pride back into Wearside.”
Awards were given out in 11 categories after Echo readers made nominations in their droves.
The winner of the Local Hero category was left up to readers who have been text voting since Friday for their favourite nominee.
High-kicking pensioner Liz Fraser received the most votes for her work teaching karate to kids, which she has done for the past 33 years.
The 69-year-old, from Concord in Washington, is devoted to twice-weekly classes at Pennywell Community Centre where she helps children to reach their potential.
By keeping fees below of other clubs, she ensures children from low-income homes can attend.
•Local Forces Hero – Corporal Mick Clark
•Green Champion – Gentoo Green
•Student of the Year – Sam Stockdale
•Fundraiser of the Year – Jeff Coxon
•Sporting Achievement – Brandon Barker
•Safer Community – Street Pastors
•Community Group – The Friends of Rectory Park
•Community Champion – Pat Round and Glenn Foot
•Role Model – Liz Fraser
•Child of Achievement – Jacob Horan
•Child of Courage – Elizabeth McCaffrey, Kian Armstrong, Jack Baird, Ellis Smith, Callum Cuthbertson, Bailey Cooper, Ruby Wright and Chloe Gray