World Cup stars Jordan Henderson and Jordan Pickford honoured alongside Sunderland’s unsung heroes and courageous children at Best of Wearside Awards

They are the champions! Meet this year’s Best of Wearside winners, which include unsung heroes, courageous children, and two international footballers.

Let’s hear it for Jordan Pickford and Jordan Henderson who won trophies at last night’s competition finale for the way they took England to the brink of World Cup glory.

The Wearside lads, who shone on the biggest stage of them all in Russia last summer as Gareth Southgate’s team reached the semi finals, had the audience on their feet once again.

Aptly, they were announced as winners at the Stadium of Light last night – the very place where they both began their incredible careers.

But they were not the only Best of Wearside Award winners on an evening when some of Sunderland’s most outstanding heroes were honoured.

There were tears as every one of the Child of Courage nominees was declared a winner.

They were:

Gray Crone, from Red House, is one year old now but at just three days old, surgeons had to go in through his back to remove part of his oesophagus. He has a condition where part of the oesophagus is joined to the windpipe.

Corey Adey, seven from Easington Lane, who has a rare brain disease called Moyamoya. He has already had three major strokes, numerous mini strokes, surgery on both sides of his brain three weeks ago – and never once cried through it all.

Miles McBurnie, the little 18-month-old fighter who was brought back to life by the emergency services when a fire broke out at his Witherwack home.

Farid Elshahawy, seven, from Thornhill, who was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive neuroblastoma when he was four. He spent eight hours in surgery to remove a tumour and is fighting back to health.

Clayton James Strand, now five and Sunderland’s little superhero who has twice had to have his skull rebuilt. He has craniosynosis, which means the bones of his skull had fused together before birth.

Luna Petrucci, another five-year-old from Sunderland. Luna was born with two congenital heart defects and hadn’t even reached her second birthday when she had life-saving surgery.

As well as the Children of Courage, inspiring stories just kept on coming as winner after winner was revealed in other categories.

There was Kirsty McGurrell, who tragically lost her first child Louis 12 days before his due date in 2009.

She responded by setting up the charity 4Louis to support other bereaved parents. She won the Community Champion Award.

The Child of Achievement was Chanel Murrish, who had open heart surgery just minutes after she was born.

She is now five and – despite having surgery 23 times – raised more than £5,000 for the Children’s Heart Unit at the Freeman Hospital by selling bracelets and doing sponsored walks.

The campaigners behind the Amber’s Law project (who are helping to save lives worldwide in memory of Amber Rose Cliff, who lost her life to cervical cancer at the age of 25) were Community Group of the Year with both the Youth Almighty Project and Veterans In Crisis Sunderland highly commended.

This year’s Local Hero was Paige Hunter – a lifesaver who writes messages of hope to people who are in despair. Paige is thought to have saved more than 16 lives by doing it.

Bridie Stoddart, who raised two children and overcame confidence issues to win a university place, was Student of the Year.

Thomas Ward, the West Rainton boxer, is closing in on his dream to be a world champion at super bantamweight, In the meantime, he’s our Sporting Achievement Award winner.

The support group Streetcare –which helps people in need, especially the homeless – won the Volunteer section and Sunderland RNLI Lifeboat Station was highly commended.

Fundraisers of the Year were Sunderland couple Sergio and Emma Petrucci,who raised £300,000 for the Children’s Heart Unit (CHUF), at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital after medics saved the life of daughter Luna, five.

Southwick Community Primary School was highly commended.

The green champions were Dame Dorothy Primary School for six years of planting flowers and trees at Roker with the help of Sue’s Cafe.

This year’s awards had some amazing backers.

They were headline sponsor BGL Group, partner sponsor Gentoo and category sponsors Stagecoach, Calsonic Kansei, Audi, and Northern. Our thanks to them all, and congratulations to all the winners.

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