It was celebration time last night for 14 local champions who received County Durham’s top award at County Hall.
The Chairman’s Medal was presented to individuals and organisations from throughout the county for their outstanding voluntary and charitable efforts.
The medal is awarded in recognition of services to County Durham and is the highest honour Durham County Council can bestow.
They were handed over by the Chairman of Durham County Council, Cllr Jan Blakey, following nominations made to the 14 Area Action Partnerships.
Cllr Blakey said: “Far too often there are unsung heroes in County Durham who do things for their community that can often go unnoticed. It’s wonderful that the Chairman’s Medal can reward them for this while at the same time highlighting their causes and bringing them to the public’s notice.
“As you can imagine, we had many outstanding nominations, and choosing a champion for each specific AAP proved extremely difficult.
“And I’ve got to stress that I am indebted to the independent panel of judges who helped make the final decisions.
“The nominations were of the highest quality, but decisions had to be made and after considerable soul searching the judging panel settled for what they believed to be the most worthy recipients.
“Everyone who was nominated should be incredibly proud of their achievements.”
The guest speaker at the event was Niall Hammond, from the Heritage Lottery Fund North East Regional Committee.
Niall is an expert adviser and mentor to the Heritage Lottery Fund, a Member of the Institute for Archaeology and sits on both the National Trust’s Regional Advisory Board for Yorkshire and the North-East and their national Archaeology Panel.
The 14 champions are:
Jean Graham – 3 Towns Partnership
Lynn Jones and Norah Newby – 4 Together Partnership
Shildon Dine and Dance Meet and Greet Group – Bishop Auckland and Shildon AAP
James Gustard – Chester-le-Street & District AAP
Ruth Harrison – Derwent Valley AAP
The Wood Pile – Durham City AAP
Parkside Community Centre volunteers – East Durham AAP
Ann Gething – East Durham Rural Corridor AAP
Anna Louise Swabey – Great Aycliffe and Middridge AAP
County Durham Socialist Clothes Bank – Mid Durham AAP
Janet Barrett – Spennymoor AAP
Margaret and John Wears – Stanley AAP
The Association of Teesdale Day Clubs – Teesdale AAP
Jean Proud – Weardale AAP
Another 14 awards will be distributed this evening at County Hall to recognise the achievements of the county’s young people.
Cllr Blakey has introduced a new award for young people – the County Durham Young Person’s Chairman’s Medal.
She said: “We are blessed in County Durham by having so many outstanding young people. Their sterling efforts and determination benefit so many people, and I want to reward them by showing that we do recognise the outstanding work that they do.”
Meningitis survivor, the inspirational Lyndon Longhorne from Crook, is the guest speaker. Lyndon lost his legs, right arm and fingers on his left hand to meningitis as a baby. Now a student at Newcastle, Lyndon will discover in a few days’ time if he has made the UK swimming team for this summer’s Paralympics in Brazil.