Brave battler Bradley Lowery was looking down as 11 courageous children collected awards in his memory.
The little boy, who won the hearts of a nation, was remembered in style on a night of high emotion at the Best of Wearside Awards. For the first time, the Child of Courage category was re-named the Bradley Lowery Child of Courage Award.
It was done in honour of the little lad from Blackhall who passed away last July after a brave battle with neuroblastoma.
Eleven children, a record number for the awards, collected a trophy in Bradley’s memory in front of a packed room at the Stadium of Light – with Bradley’s mum Gemma Lowery presenting the awards.
There were standing ovations for each child and plenty of tears as their remarkable stories were read out, including:
Chloe Gray, seven, who has a rare condition and needs a blood transfusion every four weeks.
Lucas Wilkin, whose second birthday is this month – the first person in the world diagnosed with a recently discovered genetic disorder.
Millie Fountain, five, has epilepsy, developmental delay, and can’t walk without the help of a frame.
Hayden Gray, 12, has autism and learning difficulties, yet goes out of his way to help others.
Anya Clarkson-McKenna, three, has spent half her life in hospital after being born at 25 weeks with a rare genetic disorder.
Theo Schofield, 1, who has had surgery and blood transfusions after being diagnosed with a rare kidney cancer.
Sam Stewart, 14, has leukaemia, learning disabilities, physical difficulties and speech problems, but is still determined to dance and sing.
Theo Dawes, now one, was born 10 weeks prematurely weighing 2lb after complications during pregnancy.
Josie King has cancer yet always talks to other children in hospital, to help give them courage.
Eden Wilde, seven, who is battling a undiagnosed condition, which sees her struggle to communicate.
Hunter Maskell, two, has cerebral palsy in his left hand side and has faced a battle to walk, taking his first steps last summer.
Lots of others collected trophies on a night of inspiration.
Blue Watch at Marley Park fire station won the Local Hero award for saving 18-month-old Miles McBurnie from a burning house in Witherwack.
Carol Attewell was our green champion for more than 15 years of tackling the region’s litter.
Fundraiser of the year Julie Reay has backed worthy causes after tragically losing her son Peter in 2002 when he fell from a makeshift rope swing.
Scott Baker was highly commended for running a 10k every day for 1,000 days.
Jeff Sulciewicz is Volunteer of the Year for helping children and families affected by disability.
Congratulations to Sporting Achievement winner Joshua Waddell, who won a world under-17 championships bronze medal and never lets his cerebral palsy hold him back.
Hope 4 Kidz has helped 33,900 children with special needs in the last 11 years and becomes our community group of the year. The Gateway Stars and Mini Stars – all carers aged 9 to 18 – were highly commended.
Community champion was Julie Judson – a family support worker and street pastor who helps keep vulnerable people safe.
Our Child of Achievement is Ellie White, who has won 82 first places in the dance world. Tahnee Kelly, part of the girl band EMOJI and last year’s winner of the Genfactor finals, was highly commended.
The Mak’em Smile Ambassador Award winner was Sarah Cooper, a prominent voice in promoting Sunderland to visitors.
A poignant Special Posthumous Award went to Sunderland man
, a hero of the Battle of Monte Cassino in the Second World War and a remarkable fundraiser. He even raised £6,000 by doing a parachute jump at 91 years old.
Sadly, Jack died last month aged 94, but his memory lives on and his courage and determination won him a standing ovation.
l Watch out for much more from the awards in a Sunderland Echo supplement next Wednesday - filled with interviews and photographs from a night to remember.