ELITE long distance runner Alyson Dixon was last night crowned the 2019 winner at the 20th Northern Echo Local Heroes Awards.
At a sparkling ceremony in the Grand Marquee at Wynyard Hall, hundreds of guests gathered to celebrate the stars of grassroots sport in the North-East and North Yorkshire.
Wearsider Dixon won the outstanding performance category after a spectacular year in which she broke the world record for 50km in her first attempt at an ultra-marathon. Just two weeks later she donned a Wonder Woman outfit at the Great North Run to set another new world record – this time for the fastest half marathon in a superhero costume.
Dixon has also raised thousands of pounds for St Benedict’s Hospice, and is a committed charity and grassroots athletics supporter.
As well as the outstanding performance award, the panel of judges voted her as the overall Northern Echo Local Hero of 2019.
“This is just a nice way to round off the year,” she said.
Hannah Chapman, editor of The Northern Echo, said: “Alyson is a fitting winner of our 20th anniversary Local Heroes Awards, and epitomises all the values of the event from when it was created two decades ago. Congratulations to her, and to all our winners and finalists.”
The 20th anniversary of the event was marked by a live vote on the night to name the “champion of champions” from all 20 winners over the years. It was won by County Durham para-swimmer Lyndon Longhorne, the 2009 Local Hero.
Another special addition to the night saw the County Durham Community Foundation donate £5,000 to a good cause by pressing a “golden buzzer” midway through the ceremony. Brandon Boxing Club was the deserving recipient, with Foundation chief executive Michelle Cooper citing the club’s inclusive approach as one of the reasons it was chosen.
Guests at the event from the world of North-East sport included Craig Liddle, Graeme Storm, Laura Weightman, Allison Curbishley, Max Coates and long-time supporter of the event, Steve Cram.
Host Peter Barron, former editor of The Northern Echo, who founded the awards in 1999, said Local Heroes had “grown into a huge event with unforgettable memories”.