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The Best of Darlington Awards 2018

Award Winners

Thank you for all your nominations submitted for the Best of Darlington Awards 2018. This year has seen our greatest response with over 160 nominations received. The Award Ceremony was held in the Dolphin Centre on 18th May 2018. See below for the winners of each category.

All photos by Scott Akoz Photography



Entrepreneurial Spirit

Sponsored by Business Central Darlington

The judges are looking to recognise those business minded individuals or groups who demonstrate a true passion for building something great from nothing and are willing to push themselves to the limits to achieve big goals. This could be creativity/innovation demonstrated in a new business product or service or innovation in an existing business.

2018 Winner: RMS - Carole Martin

Born and raised in Darlington, Carole started RMS from scratch in 2000 on her own and without any financial backing or investors. Initially starting the business with only her brother, Leon, to help, Carole has grown RMS into a leading UK recruitment and HR company with a turnover in access of £21million. She has been described by a colleague as 'inspirational and an incredibly motivated leader'.

Award presented by Vanessa Wood, Managing Director of Business Central



Bringing Success to Darlington

Sponsored by Darlington Building Society

The judges will award this to a business whose extraordinary achievement has been recognised on the regional, national or international stage, adding to Darlington’s reputation. This might be in an innovation or reputation in business, public service, academia or the arts that has put Darlington on the map.

2018 Winner: Clive Owen

Clive started his chartered accountancy practice here in Darlington in 1983. This year the practice is celebrating its 35th year in business. Having recently been celebrated by industry colleagues at the annual 20/20 Innovation Group Conference he was described as an accounting hero. His citation stated 'He had the steel and determination to start his practice. He had the wisdom to surround himself with great people and the skill to overlay a clear ethos of service to the community throughout the firm.'

Award presented by Colin Fyfe, Chief Executive of Darlington Building Society



Business Contribution to the Community

Sponsored by MTE Ltd

This award recognises business with a passion and commitment to giving something back. Whether it’s helping a voluntary or community organisation, fundraising for a good cause or donating time and resources to local communities.

2018 Winner: Wayne Percy

Wayne is a shining star in the army of volunteers from Cummins that do so much for the communities of Darlington. Whether it’s supporting people who are facing hardship or caring for the environment or helping young people blossom they are a major force for good.His colleagues at Cummins have singled Wayne out in recognition of the commitment and energy he throws into volunteering.

Award presented by Craig Rose of MTE Ltd.



Contribution to the Arts

Sponsored by Darlington Operatic Society

This award will be given to an individual or group who has made a major contribution to the arts in Darlington either by the excellence of their own performance, commitment to organising activities or by being role models to others in their attitude to the arts.

2018 Winner: Mike Prendergast

Mike has been promoting music in Darlington for 22 years. During this time he has been running the R & B club and this year alone will bring 24 bands to the town for the Darlington Blues Festival. The tremendous contribution he makes to the music scene in Darlington is on a completely voluntary basis. He also supports young people on their way by getting them gigs.

Award presented by Julian Cound of Darlington's Operatic Society



Public Service Hero

Sponsored by the Blue Light Services

The judges are looking for an individual or individuals who have gone far above and beyond their duty, either as a one off exceptional incident or consistently in their line of work.  Anyone working in a public service role can be nominated for this award.

2018 Winner: Lyndsey Robinson

Lyndsey, a housing officer for Darlington Borough Council supported local residents who were subjected to over 180 incidents of anti-social behaviour of one particular family, including verbal abuse, harassment, damage to their property and an attempted arson attack. It took great determination and patience but eventually, working with the Police, convictions and restraining orders were secured and now peace has been restored to the community.

Award presented by Stuart Errington, Chief of Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service



Vocational Excellence

Sponsored by Darlington College

The judges are looking for an individual (of any age) who has engaged in vocational learning such as a course or apprenticeship that has specialised in a particular trade or discipline and whose achievement has been outstanding.

2018 Winner: Stephen Liddle

Stephen is the winner of the Metal Industry Craft Skills Apprentice of the Year and his employer, Cleveland Bridge, are rightly proud of him. He has worked in complex areas within the company and worked on some of their major projects. The company are delighted with the skills he has developed, the quality of the work he produces and his eagerness to learn more.

Award presented by Kate Roe, Principal of Darlington College



Academic Excellence

Sponsored by Queen Elizabeth 6th Form College

The award will be presented to an individual who has demonstrated outstanding academic achievement that deserves wider recognition.

2018 Winner: Olivia Shovlin (Award received by members of family)

Olivia is a very special young woman and the staff of Queen Elizabeth 6th Form College are extremely proud of her. She achieved A* or A grades in Biology, History, Chemistry, Extended project and AS English Literature. She has now secured a prestigious place at Oxford University, reading Biological Sciences. Olivia achieved all this despite having to deal with difficult family circumstances.

Award presented by Tim Fisher, Principal of Queen Elizabeth 6th Form College



Exceptional Student

Sponsored by The Forge, Teesside University

The judges will award this to a student who doesn’t fall into either previous categories but who deserves recognition for the extraordinary effort they have made or for remaining committed to their learning in the face of adversity.

2018 Winner: Melissa Ansbro (Award received by member of family)

Melissa has a knee condition which resulted in her not being able to bend her knees.  Melissa also suffered from mental health problems and on top of that was diagnosed with Autism in Year 11.  Her teacher’s say that Melissa was a delightful student and despite all her problems, she left school with a grade 4 in maths, a grade C in Science, grade 3s in English and English Literature, grade Es in Geography and RE and a Distinction in her ECDL.  Melissa now attends Haughall College.

Award presented by Laura Woods, Teesside University



Exceptional Care

Sponsored by Darlington Clinical Commissioning Group

This category recognises teams in Darlington who have provided care in a way that has made a real difference to your life or someone you care for and the people of Darlington.It might well be a team whose work doesn’t normally have a high profile but who should be recognised for the great care they provide.

2018 Winner: Janet Mortimer

Janet has been in nursing for 40 years. She is now a driving force in revolutionizing the way dementia patients are cared for in Darlington. Sometimes making subtle changes to the colour of walls and facilities, sometimes introducing new equipment – all done with care and sensitivity to the needs of dementia patients. The simple changes Janet is introducing is making a huge difference in the lives’ of dementia patients.

Award presented by Dr. Andrea Jones, Chief Clinical Officer of Darlington Clinical Commissioning Group



Contribution to the Environment

Sponsored by Groundwork North East

The judges are looking for an individual, community group or a business that is having a positive impact on the environment through projects or particular initiatives such as improving wildlife habitats, reducing carbon footprint or improving open spaces.

2018 Winner: Darlington Street Champions

This group is playing a vital role in keeping the streets of Darlington clean. They are a dedicated bunch of volunteers who are passionate about where they live and take pride in keeping it looking nice. The judges were impressed with their commitment and the example they set as good citizens.

Award presented by Ian Brown, Groundwork North East



Performance in Sport

Sponsored by Police, Crime and Victims' Commissioner

This award will be presented to an individual or group that the judges see have excelled in their chosen sport.

2018 Winner: Brian Martin

Brian is an inspiration and proves that age is no barrier to achieving your goals. What counts is determination. Having started running in his middle years, he has improved year on year and has gone on to win numerous age category awards. Brian runs over different distances and seems to excel in all. In 2017, not only did he rank 2nd nationally in the 10,000 metres, but Brian represented England internationally twice with podium finishes in both events!

Award presented by Jon Carling on behalf of Crime and Victims Commissioner.



Contribution to Sport

Sponsored by Sherwoods

The judges are looking for groups or individuals who have made a major contribution to sport in Darlington through commitment to organising activities, volunteering or by being role models to others in their attitude to sport.

2018 Winner: Philip Boyle

Philip has led the Hummersknott Badminton Club since 1974! Philip taught science at Hummersknott Academy for many years but didn’t let retirement stop him from his work with the Badminton Club! The club is active in the community and has raised over £7,000 for sports relief over the past few years. However, it is the sporting achievements that stand out under Philip’s guidance.  More than 40 years of devotion deserves our respect.

Award presented by Alasdair MacConachie, Sherwoods.



Sponsored by Tees Valley Rural Community Council

The judges award this to an individual or group who has shown outstanding commitment in their voluntary field without expectation of reward or recognition. This might be the length of time someone has volunteered, the breadth of responsibility that they have taken or the sacrifice they made in order to volunteer.

2018 Winner: Harry Bowes

Harry’s name has cropped up time and again, nominated by different people indifferent categories. He is clearly impressing many people. From the age of 17 Harry has been giving up evening through the week to coach an under nines football team and time at weekends for matches. On top of that last year he set up and now coaches a girls’ football team. 

Award presented by Rita Lawson, Chief Officer of Tees Valley Rural Community Council



Exceptional Young Volunteer

Sponsored by Carmel Education Trust

The judges will award this to a young person (under the age of 18) or group of young people who have shown outstanding commitment in their voluntary field without expectation of reward or recognition. This might be the length of time someone has volunteered, the breadth of responsibility that they have taken or the sacrifice they made in order to volunteer.

2018 Winner: Ross Howell

Ross' volunteering has had a positive impact on many young people by giving them the opportunity to participate in sport. Staff at the Eastbourne sports complex have been amazed at his dedication and the time he gives before his school day starts, at lunchtime and at the end of the school day. His hard work and enthusiasm make him a great ambassador for Longfield School and an inspiration to his peers.

Award presented by Councillor Cyndi Hughes



Contribution to the Community

Sponsored by Darlington Borough Council

The judges are looking for an individual or group who are involved in activities aimed at improving where they live.

2018 Winner: Peter Allan

To those who have worked closely with Peter, he is recognized as a true community champion. He has applied his apparently limitless energy to a huge range of initiatives to improve Hurworth. Whether it's serving on committees, fund raising or supporting the community centre, you will find Peter striving away. With the support of his friends Pater introduced the first Hurworth Country Fair. 

Award presented by Councillor Andy Scott, Darlington Borough Council



Darlington Cares ‘Good Egg’

Sponsored by Harvey & Hugo

This award goes to the colleague that the employees of Darlington Cares members themselves see as just a jolly good egg.

2018 Winner: Lee Morris

Despite family and work commitments Lee gives his time to get people exercising to bolster their confidence and to encourage social inclusion. People who work with Lee talk of his compassion, resilience and devotion. He is aware of how common mental health problems are and knows the physical, emotional and social benefit of running. His is known for his positivity and his work colleagues appreciate the difference he is making to peoples’ lives.

Award presented by Charlotte Nichols, Harvey & Hugo



Darlington Cares % of Staff Volunteering

Sponsored by Harvey & Hugo

This award goes to the Darlington Cares member who has the highest % of staff that volunteer.

2018 Winner: Cummins, Award received by Lorraine Bulloch

Cummins are a volunteering powerhouse. The ethos of supporting the local communities where they operate runs deep within the company. The plant in Darlington employees 862 people. 637 of whom did voluntary work last year. Cummins are the model of a good corporate citizen.

Award presented by Charlotte Nichols, Harvey & Hugo



Citizen of the Year

Sponsored by Darlington Borough Council

All the nominations for Best of Darlington are considered for this prestigious title and will represent Darlington during 2018. The winner will receive a trophy and a cheque for £100 to be presented to the charity of their choosing, donated from the Mayor's Charity Fund.

2018 Winner: Peter Allan

For extraordinary service to his community of Hurworth.

Award presented by Worshipful the Mayor of Darlington, Councillor Veronica Copeland



Young Citizen of the Year

Sponsored by Darlington Rotary Club

All the young nominees for Best of Darlington are considered for this prestigious title and will represent Darlington during 2018. The winner will receive a trophy and a cheque for £100 to be presented to the charity of their choosing, donated from the Mayor's Charity Fund.

2018 Winner: Harry Bowes

For making a huge difference to young peoples' lives through his copious volunteering.

Award presented by Steve Rose, President of Darlington Rotary Club



Chairman's Special Awards

As is customary, the chairman makes awards to individuals whose nomination doesn't fit neatly into any other category or who has made a contribution to Darlington that deserves recognition. Two Chairman's Special Awards were handed out in 2018.

2018 Winner: Natalie Currie and Rebecca Winn (Neither were able to attend the Award Ceremony)

Around midnight on May 17th two friends were driving along St. Augustine's Way. On the opposite side of the road they witnessed a man struggling with a woman, dragging her to the ground. As quickly as they could they parked and went to the help. As they approached the man ran off and they went to the help of the woman who had been brutally attacked and raped. They quickly dialed 999 and their description led to the arrest of a suspect. With the help of their evidence the suspect was later charged with the attack and found guilty and received a substantial sentence.

In the view of the Police, had Natalie and Rebecca not returned to the scene the attack would have continued and the offender may have escaped justice.



2018 Winner: Ada Burns

Ada Burns has given 12 years' service to Darlington and her achievements will benefit Darlington for years to come. Despite her immense contribution she is not one to seek accolades and right now will be a little cross she is receiving one. The words 'vision' and leadership' are bandied about carelessly at senior level but that is truly what she has provided. During her tenure, Darlington Borough Council faced its most challenging times, having to cope with drastic cuts in its funding whilst demands on its services continued to rise relentlessly. She was able to support the Cabinet in charting a course through, and marshal the Council's resources to deliver it.

A fervent supporter of partnership working, she has been able to outline a vision that partners could understand and buy into and through Darlington Partnership, she helped lay the foundations of a more resilient town. She is a natural leader. People follow her not because they fear the consequences if they don't, but because she has listened to them and the course that she sets reflects their knowledge and opinion.

Award presented by Alasdair MacConachie, Chairman of Darlington Partnership

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