A story about the unbreakable bond between little battler Bradley Lowery and his footballing hero Jermain Defoe was the most well-read by Echo readers in 2017.
As the nation mourned the death of the inspirational six-year-old, his best friend Jermain was among those to attend his funeral in Blackhall, County Durham, in July.
Our coverage of the funeral struck a chord with Wearsiders with 126,418 reading the story on our website.
As the year draws to a close, we’ve compiled a top ten of the most-read stories online to find out what interests readers most.
Echo managing editor Gavin Foster said: “Bradley Lowery’s story touched the hearts of the people of Sunderland and the hearts of a nation.
“His courageous smile and battle did so much to raise awareness of the plight of children with neuroblastoma in the short time he was with us.
“But it was his relationship with Jermain Defoe that captured people’s hearts across the globe. It was therefore easy to see why the heartbreaking image of Jermain saying a final farewell to his little pal at the funeral had such a big impact and reached such a huge audience.
“It was a beautiful moment for a brave, brave little boy who will never be forgotten.”
The most-read stories on the Echo website in 2017 are as follows:
2. Heart-breaking news for family of brave Bradley Lowery as doctors find new tumour - 53,201
3. Sunderland businessman faces jail after admitting 11 child sex offences - 41,335
4. Cyclist dies after collision in Sunderland - 40,089
5. ‘Can You Hear Me?’: Residents warned to hang up on new phone scam - 40,013
6. Man who died after falling from Sunderland’s Wearmouth Bridge is named - 40,002
7. Bradley Lowery’s parents receive heart-breaking news that cancer treatment is not working - 39,546
8. A19 re-opened after driver suffers serious injuries in crash - 39,255
9. Tribute after Sunderland businessman dies in forklift accident - 39,156
10. Pupils ‘lined up in the rain’ to colour-match trousers at Sunderland school - with children sent home if clothes were from the wrong shop - 37,310