'Keep believing in your dreams' Steph Houghton among stars to send message to award-winning youngsters

Inspiring messages have been given to the next generation from the stars of sport and music.

Sunderland player and North East lad George Honeyman, England captain Steph Houghton, from South Hetton, and X Factor finalist Molly Scott, from Easington Colliery sent their congratulations to the audience of the Young Heroes Awards.

England captain Steph Houghton was among those to send messages of support to the audience.

England captain Steph Houghton was among those to send messages of support to the audience.

Read more: Kindhearted and brave children championed at Young Heroes Awards celebration

Held in Peterlee last night, 10 schoolchildren were championed for their part in making the community a better place.

Additional messages were sent by Minister for Policing and Fire Nick Hurd, as well as professional boxer Anthony Hardy, from Horden.

The force hosted the event at Shotton Hall, with Deputy Chief Constable Jo Farrell closing the celebrations with a speech.

Sunderland captain George Honeyman congratulated youngsters on their achievements.

Sunderland captain George Honeyman congratulated youngsters on their achievements.

The awards made their return after the inaugural presentation was held a year ago, with the effort to recognise the young members of the community deemed such a success it is to be rolled out elsewhere across the county.

Entertainment was presented by the Academy at Shotton Hall, with its choir performing and solos by Lottie Willis and Erin Thwaites.

Last years video messages included one from Little Mix's Perrie Edwards.

Chief Inspector Lee Blakelock, who has been among the officers to lead the event, said of tonight's show: "We wanted to use local talent to get across the point that you can follow your dreams, from X Factor to Sunderland AFC.

Singer Molly Scott gave her backing to the night.

Singer Molly Scott gave her backing to the night.

"Being from the area, they have shown what they can achieve and these young people can do whatever they want to do and it's also to show them something a bit different.

"We also invited along Shotton Hall, who performed last year, because they were so good."

In her message, Steph Houghton said: "Just a little message to say I hope you're having an amazing evening.

"Obviously I've been hearing so many food stories about all the hard work that the partners have put in in Peterlee and also all the inspiring stoies from all the young people back in Peterlee.

Heather Mills made a speech at the ceremony.

Heather Mills made a speech at the ceremony.

"Congratulations to all those young people winning awards tonight, an amazing achievement.

"Most of all, enjoy your evening, keep believing in your dreams and hopefully I'll see you all soon."

George added his own congratulations and said: "It's great to hear all the positive stories from everyone who took part in the event this evening.

"As a local lad who came through the ranks at Sunderland football club, and I'm now stood here as captain, I just want to say keep believing in your dreams, keep working hard, and you never know where you will get to."

Washington-raised businesswoman Heather Mills talked to the audience about her own bushes with the law as a youngster and how she used her own difficult start in life to drive her to become a success.

Her VBites firm has taken on the former Walkers site in the town to produce her vegan food range, with one of the snack lines to remain in place once it is up and running.

She said: "Really go after success and work hard, don't beat yourself up about exams, do the best that you can, focus on what you love, but don't feel that pressure about being this book-read person that must do XYZ.

"Just follow your passion and I am the epitome of someone who was told time and time again you will never get anywhere, you'll never achieve anything, and I did become a millionaire by the time I was 19, but that's just a financial side.

"Parents, don't worry about the mad things your kids do, because all you will do is restrict them from their love and what they believe in, and any teachers out there, please don't tell kids they're not going to get anywhere, because they end up like me and much more successful than you, which is what happened to me.

"Never worry about what other people think, as long as you're doing the right thing and you're making a difference, then you will achieve everything you ever want to do."