Foundation of Light Top Scorer Awards: Who were the winners?
Inspiring stories and triumph over adversity were celebrated as the Foundation of Light held its Top Scorer Awards.
The Foundation - Sunderland AFC’s charitable arm - works with schools, community groups and individuals across the North East in a wide range of areas.
Sponsors at the Stadium of Light ceremony were joined by Sunderland players Duncan Watmore, Paddy McNair and Jan Kirchoff, as well as club legend Jimmy Montgomery, to present the awards.
The event was a chance for the club to connect with its community, said Duncan: “It is really important.
“Sometimes in the past, we have not been as connected as we should be with the fans, given the support they give us week in and week out.”
Foundation chief executive Lesley Spuhler said: “Today is really only a snapshot in terms of what the Foundation does, but it really shows what we do.”
Louise Khattab won the Inspiring Learner Award for sharing her account of coping with mental health problems and grief.
Louise, 42, lost children Daniel and Courtney in a car crash in Egypt in 2009.
“I have been sharing my experience of dealing with mental health issues with other people,” she said.
“There is still a stigma around mental health issues and grief but death is something we all have to deal with, unfortunately.
“It has been great to be here today and I am really happy to win this award.”
The Active Family Award went to five-year-old Derek Russell.
The Barmston Primary School pupil, who has cerebral palsy, underwent surgery in the U.S. to help him walk.
“He’s always been resilient, even when he was little, he’s always fought hard and with him being a triplet he’s had to try and keep up with his other brother and sister,” said Dad Derek Senior.
“I love him to bits and I’m really proud of him. I think he’s really confident and outgoing”
Harry Barker picked up the Determined Young Player Award.
Harry was born with no heartbeat and not breathing and suffered brain damage in the time it took to resuscitate him.
He was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at 14 months and has made huge progress since enrolling on the Foundation’s Making Moves programme, which promotes physical co-ordination.
“They said he would not be able to walk or talk but by three he was starting to walk and he now doesn’t shut up,” said proud mum Claire.
“Everything they said he could not do, he has gone on and he’s beaten the odds and he’s shown everyone that it is doable.
“I’m really proud of him, he really deserves it.
“He’s determined, he’s worked really hard to build up his skill and his confidence. He’s the sweetest little boy you’ll ever meet. He’s fun loving, friendly, confident. He’s just an absolute pleasure.
“The world is his oyster now.”
Sixteen-year-old Courtney Stewart received the Team Player Award.
Courtney, who plays for Sunderland RCA under-16s, shaved her head in solidarity with coach Michael Havelock when he was diagnosed with cancer, and raised £1,900 for Cancer Research.
“I have been overwhelmed by the response,” she said.
“I was a bit surprised to find myself up on the stage.”