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Karl Wharton named Local Hero of the Year for his tireless work supporting young gymnasts

 

THE guiding light behind one of the North-East’s most successful gymnastics clubs was crowned 2014 Local Hero by sporting legend Steve Cram tonight (Thursday).

The 15th annual Northern Echo Local Heroes award saw sports stars, enthusiasts and administrators from across the North-East honoured at Darlington’s Dolphin Centre.

More than 800 people, including VIP guests such as former Sunderland ace Kevin Ball and athlete Allison Curbishley, saw Karl Wharton named Local Hero of the Year for his tireless work supporting young gymnasts.

The 51-year-old, from Ushaw Moor, founded the Deerness Gymnastics Academy and has dedicated 25 years of his life to helping youngsters and growing his club into one of the most successful sporting institutions in the region.

Mr Wharton has helped hundreds of gymnasts achieve sporting success, with more than 100 of his protégés representing Great Britain, over 80 winning medals and seven crowned as either European or world champions.

The university lecturer also served on the gymnastic’s world governing body and oversees the day-to-day running of the academy in his spare time.

Northern Echo editor and compere Peter Barron said: “In choosing a winner, the judges had an unenviable task.

“It was the closest call in the 15-year history of these awards, but the casting vote went to someone who epitomises what these awards are all about.

“It is someone who has invested a great deal of precious time into helping others excel at sport.

“It is someone who started from humble beginnings and created something very special – one of the leading grass roots sports organisations, not just in the North but the country.”

Mr Wharton also picked up the Sir Bobby Robson Leading Light Award and was awarded £5,000 by the County Durham Community Foundation in recognition of his dedication.

via From one sporting hero to another – Steve Cram honours Durham gymnast named 2014’s Local Hero of the Year (From The Northern Echo).

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