More than 150 people looked on as the late Alby Pattison MBE was named Hartlepool Sports Council’s Sports Personality of the Year.
The posthumous award was a fitting tribute to the huge rugby fan who died in October, just a day after watching Hartlepool Rovers in action against Old Boys.
Alby was 64 and loved running, taking part in half marathons. He was well-known throughout the town and did an enormous amount of work for charity.
John Bickerstaff, from Hartlepool Rovers Rugby Club, paid tribute to Alby. He said: "As a business leader he knew that with power comes responsibility and he not only accepted it but thrived on it, putting others first especially youngsters.
“He was instrumental in promoting better places for kids using sport and music as a vehicle to do so.”
It was a special night at Hartlepool College of Further Education hosted by the PFC Trust’s chairman Shaun Hope with guest speaker Antony Sweeney, from Hartlepool United, reflecting on his career and giving his advice to the budding sports stars of the future.
Dave Kilner, Chair of Hartlepool Sports Council, said: “I would like to pass on my thanks to Hartlepool College and the amazing hospitality team for hosting another great event and thank you to Antony Sweeney for attending.
“We would also like to thank all the amazing sponsors for their much-valued contributions, The Gus Robinson Foundation, The PFC Trust, Hartlepool Sport, Hartlepool Borough Council and Hartlepool College of Further Education.”
Robin Hart was recognised for Services to Sport for more than 50 years of hockey in Hartlepool with Caledonians and 60 overall including time with Billingham. Robin is still playing into his 70s.
Coach of the Year was Gemma Fox. She has been integral to the growth of the Under 16s Girls at Hartlepool Rugby Club and has recently taken up a role as a Durham County Woman’s Coach on the
England Rugby Development Programme. She has also been nominated for an award at Twickenham this coming weekend.
Gary Hinks won the Keith Hewitson Volunteer of the Year after establishing himself as a “Manilla Cycling legend” for always turning up to help at short notice and putting others first.
The Primary Rising Star Award went to Aria Wallace for scoring an amazing 200 goals for FC Hartlepool despite playing a year above. She is also part of Durham’s Emerging Talent Centre.
And the Secondary Rising Star Award went to Taekwondo Team Warrior Sonny Sweeting, from English Martyrs, after winning the national championships. He has now been selected to represent and train with Team GB.
English Martyrs’ Year 11 footballers were named Outstanding Team of the Year having
made it to the final of the English Schools’ Under-15s Elite Cup. They also became town champions and runners up in the Cleveland County Cup.
And the Hartlepool Huskies were crowned the Outstanding Club of the Year for bringing basketball back to youngsters in Hartlepool. The Huskies, formed last year, now have over 350 young people playing in the town.
George Stannard, from the Gus Robinson Foundation, said: ‘It’s so good to see and feel the extensive passion for sport. Such a lot of talent in Hartlepool. It was such a well-planned event and brilliantly presented.”
And Carl Jorgeson, the director of Hartlepool Sport, the sport arm of charity the PFC Trust, said: "The annual awards are one of the highlights of the year.
“We have so many amazing clubs, athletes and supporters and most don't do it for any sort of recognition.
“So, to be able to celebrate some of those amazing sporting moments, or some of the people and clubs that go above and beyond is such a privilege.
“This year's award was poignant as Alby Pattison MBE sadly passed away recently. Alby was a gentleman, and such a huge supporter of local sport and the wider town. We will all miss him. "