Best of Wearside: Sunderland AFC legends honoured

Sunderland legends Gary Bennett and Jimmy Montgomery  who picked up awards at the Sunderland Echo Best of Wearside awards at the Stadium of Light.
Sunderland legends Gary Bennett and Jimmy Montgomery who picked up awards at the Sunderland Echo Best of Wearside awards at the Stadium of Light.
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THEY’RE winners all

Meet the champions who picked up the honours at this year’s Best of Wearside awards.

What a night of high emotion it was at the Stadium of Light where more than 260 guests watched as the elite of our area collected their trophies.

See a list of all the winners here

There were highlights galore, including the moments when two of the city’s legends got a standing ovation as they took to the stage.

Sunderland goalkeeper, and history-maker Jimmy Montgomery won the special recognition trophy for his many achievements in the region, not least his contribution to the Black Cats remarkable 1-0 FA Cup Final win over Leeds United in 1973.

He picked up his trophy with the audience watching his miraculous double save from the 1973 FA Cup Final as he collected his honour.

Afterwards, he told us: “This is up there with the best, to be recognised for what you love doing. The football side is done and it’s gone but I love working for charities and to be an ambassador for the football club is a great experience and I love doing it.”

And Gary Bennett was just as popular as he lifted the Judges’ Award honour for his campaign against racism.

He was stunned at his success, and said: “I am still in shock. I have played in front of thousands of people but to receive this award is an honour for myself and my family.

“The people of Sunderland have taken me in as one of their own.”

There was barely a dry eye in the room as our Children of Courage – Daniel Burgess, eight; Bryant Hackett, 14; Liam Straughan, seven; Derek Russell, three; Paige Evans, aged two; Oliver Gleeson, also two; Archie Holder-McNish, aged three; and Oliver Osborn, aged 18 months – were announced as worthy champions.

Other winners included Ronald Barrass (community champion), South Hylton Primary School (green champion), South Hylton Tansy Centre Catering Team (community group winners), Sunderland Street Pastors (safer community winners), the Youth Almighty Project (community project), and Kaye Dixon (fund-raiser of the year).

Congratulations also go to the SAFC Ladies who were the sporting achievement victors, and Barry Taylor, who was chosen as the local hero and role model.

Double applause goes to Kieran Scaplehorn, 15, who both won the child of achievement crown, and dashed across Sunderland City Centre to pick up his trophy after competing on the same night in the finals of Genfactor, at the Empire Theatre.

Well done to them all.

• Make sure you continue to buy the Echo to get your pullout supplement with more photographs, interviews and reaction from all of the winners, in the days to come.