Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Families Who Never Flinch

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Families Who Never Flinch

Article excerpt

Byline: By Sara Wallis

Families who have struggled through heartache and tears were honoured at a Chronicle awards ceremony this year.

Champagne corks popped at the emotional ceremony at Newcastle's Copthorne Hotel, as the Stellings became our Family of the Year.

Judges had shortlisted six deserving families that had battled against adversity and all were recognised at the event in July.

TV presenter and Chronicle columnist, Kathy Secker, sponsor Eldon Square's Malcolm Lumsden and Chronicle Editor, Paul Robertson, all had a tough time choosing the winners.

Watts and Yvonne Stelling were overwhelmed when they accepted first prize with their children Nicola and Lisa.

The family had battled on despite the grief of losing siblings to illness and murder, bringing up two children, one of whom has Down's Syndrome, and supporting elderly parents.

Watts, of Leadgate, Consett, said at the time: "It is wonderful to win but we are all winners. It is fantastic that we can pull together and show people in the North East how important the family is."

In second place in the competition were the Sawyer family, of Ashington, who sadly lost their six-year-old daughter Rebecca in a hit-and-run smash last New Year's Eve.

Sharon Sawyer wrote to the Chronicle to put forward her husband Steven, two-year-old daughter Kirsty and late daughter Rebecca after driver Ian Carr sped through a red light and struck the car they were in.

In her heartfelt letter, Mrs Sawyer wrote: "Despite being in a fatal car crash resulting in Rebecca's death, Steven and Kirsty have shown great determination to overcome their own injuries, especially baby Kirsty who nearly died too."

The Chronicle's Justice for Rebecca Campaign was backed by more than 42,000 readers and a number of leading North East MPs. …

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