They’re the Sunderland volunteer Army who kept their castle fight intact - and now they could pick up an honour

Some of the Castle in the Community volunteers.
Some of the Castle in the Community volunteers.

Dedicted volunteers have been rewarded for their part in a 25-year battle to restore a castle to its former glory.

The Castle In The Community group of volunteers have painstakingly helped to bring Hylton Castle back to life.

This is remarkable for the group of volunteers. It is hope for everyone who volunteers that it is worth volunteering

Susan Ord

Their efforts look set to be rewarded when the restoration project reaches its next stage and the keys are handed back at around Easter.

But there’s more good news as Castle In The Community has also been nominated for a Best of Wearside Award.

Chairperson Susan Ord said it was “wonderful news. This is remarkable for the group of volunteers. It is hope for everyone who volunteers that it is worth volunteering.”

Work to transform Hylton Castle into a heritage and community venue for all to enjoy began in 2016 with construction work starting in Autumn 2017.

This was the result of a quarter of a century of campaigning by residents to make the iconic structure active once more and at the heart of community life.

The £4.2 million project is a partnership between Castle in the Community and Sunderland City Council, funded by the council and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The nomination for Castle in the Community came from a member of the public who said: “This group has worked tirelessly for over 25 years to save Hylton Castle from complete ruin and have doggedly applied for funds to help them bring the castle back to life and make the building fit to be used by all of the local communities who hold it dear to their hearts.

“I have been watching the progress closely. I can’t tell you what it meant to me to see windows and lights in the castle for the first time in my lifetime.”

Susan welcomed the nomination and praised the “spirit of the community” for helping to make it happen.”

She added: “We have won national awards for our efforts as volunteers but there is nothing more meaningful than being recognised by your own community.”

This year’s Best of Wearside Awards has backing from headline sponsor BGL Group, partner sponsor Gentoo and category sponsors Stagecoach and Calsonic Kansei.

We thank them all for getting on board, and now comes your turn to get involved.

Send your name, address and telephone number, as well as your email address, if applicable.

Remember to include the category you are putting your nominated cause into. Also, send the name of the person you wish to nominate, along with their address, telephone number and email (if known). Send all of that to Lynn Wild before March 1.

You can nominate in any one of three ways:

l Email those entries to lynn.wild@jpimedia.co.uk.

l Send them to Lynn Wild, Alexander House, Second Floor, Rainton Bridge Business Park, Houghton-le-Spring, Sunderland. DH4 5RA.

l Visit the website at www.bestofwearside.co.uk.

The categories

Local Hero.

Green Champion.

Student of the Year.

Fundraiser of the Year.

Volunteer of the Year.

Sporting Achievement.

Community Group.

Community Champion.

Child of Achievement.

Child of Courage.