Gold medal-winning athletes, firefighters and local volunteers were amongst those celebrated at the Best of Darlington awards ceremony.
The annual celebration, which was held at the Dolphin Centre on Friday, June 14th, 2019, was hosted by Darlington Borough Council and organised by One Darlington.
On the night, Stephen Hopper was named as the overall Citizen of the Year, having also scooped the award in his nomination category for contribution to the environment.
Stephen has been a volunteer for more than twenty years and is seen by many as an unsung hero.
He is out almost every day, whatever the weather, working hard to maintain green spaces across the town, including Geneva Wood, Skerne Park Community Centre and Drinkfield Marsh.
In addition, Stephen volunteers for the British Orienteering Federation, improving the courses, maintaining marker posts and helping to train and support youngsters in the sport.
Natalie Whitworth, who nominated Stephen for the award, said: “His work contributes directly to the growth and development of social networks and social cohesion within our community, he really is the best of Darlington.
“I don’t know anyone who puts in this amount of dedication, time and effort into supporting our green spaces and I am proud to know someone like Stephen.”
The Young Citizen of the Year Award was awarded to Carmel College student Francis Humble, who was elected as Youth MP (YMP) for Darlington in March 2018.
The 15-year-old campaigned for a free school breakfast for every pupil at every school and a discount card for leisure facilities in Darlington.
He has also helped improve mental health in Darlington, building on the work of previous YMPs.
As part of his role, Francis has represented Darlington at various conventions and has attended the House of Commons.
He has also been involved in community campaigns including Darlington RED Box Project, the Big Spring Clean and many more.
Andy Whittam, who nominated Francis for the award, said: “It has been a pleasure to work with Francis and he is a credit to Darlington.
He has spoken at numerous events and campaigned hard for real change to ensure that the young people of Darlington are heard.”
Councillor Heather Scott, Leader of Darlington Borough Council, said: “These awards highlight the fantastic work and commitment shown by extraordinary local people who together help to make Darlington the great place it is to live and work.
“Congratulations to all the winners and to those who were nominated. There are many heartfelt stories behind each nomination, they all deserve special recognition.
“A big thank you must also go to the principal sponsors, Teesside University and County Durham Community Foundation and to the category sponsors.”
The Best of Darlington aims to identify and celebrate local people and businesses who, together, represent and embody the best of the borough in a range of areas.
This includes vocational excellence, performance in sport, public services hero, exceptional volunteer and an all-round “good egg”.
You can find out more about the awards on the One Darlington website.
Best of Darlington Awards Category Winners
|Citizen of the Year||Stephen Hopper|
|Young Citizen of the Year||Francis Humble|
|Academic Excellence||Thomas Nimmo|
|Exceptional Student||Laurie Nicholson|
|Vocational Excellence||Paige Stainthorp|
|Darlington Cares “Good Egg”||Lorraine Bulloch|
|Entrepreneurial Spirit||Tom Schott & Josh Grant|
|Business Contribution to the Community||Mangobean|
|Contribution to the Community||King’s Church Foodbank|
|Contribution to the Environment||Stephen Hopper|
|Contribution to the Arts||Darlington Operatic Society|
|Contribution to Sport||Peter Walton|
|Performance in Sport||India Oates|
|Exceptional Care||Humankind Darlington Young Carers Service|
|Public Service Hero||Red Watch, Darlington Fire Station|
|Exceptional Volunteer||Team JJ at Café JJ|
|Exceptional Young Volunteer||Abbie Wishart|
|Darlington Cares: “Small Company Big Heart”||Nando’s Darlington|
|Chairman’s Special Award||Haughton Historical Society - David Allaway|
Source: Darlington Borough Council
Photos: Scott Akoz Photography