The sporting achievements of a football club for disabled players were celebrated in a special reception with the Mayor of South Tyneside this week.
Hebburn-based South Tyneside Ability Football Club recently returned home with a raft of awards having represented the North Region in their first Special Olympics tournament held in Stirling, Scotland, over the summer.
The group also recently won a Best of South Tyneside 'Community Group of the Year' award as well as the Durham Football Association's 'Community Project of the Year'.
The club was praised for its achievements when members were welcomed to South Shields Town Hall by the Mayor, Councillor Ken Stephenson and Mayoress, Cathy Stephenson.
The Mayor said: "I was delighted to welcome such as inspiring group of young players to the town hall. They are fantastic ambassadors for the borough who show that disability is no barrier to success and that anything is possible."
The Special Olympic winners included Matthew Lone, who secured the Silver award in Boccia. Dean Spraggon won a Gold accolade in Football. Shaun Clark and Daniel Bettencourt both secured Silver football awards.
As well as the sporting achievements, South Tyneside Ability Football Club was praised for the instrumental role it played in helping to highlight the issue of mate crime as part of the Borough's high profile #WhoRYa campaign.
It was initial work between South Tyneside Council and the football club that sparked the need to raise more awareness of mate crime - a term used to describe physical, mental or financial abuse of people with learning disabilities by those they believe are their friends. The campaign culminated in a conference, the first of its kind to be held in the region, bringing agencies together to increase their understanding of mate crime.
Justin Laidler, Chairman of South Tyneside AFC, said: "It was great experience for our players to meet the Mayor and have their achievements recognised in this way.
"We are all so incredibly proud of how far they have come and of their involvement in highlighting such an important issue as mate crime and helping to keep others with disabilities safe."
South Tyneside Ability Football Club was formed in 2011 and is based at the Hide clubhouse at Keelmans Way School in Campbell Park Road.
It currently has five adult teams, two junior teams and an under 11 team. Adults train on Wednesdays, from 6pm to 8pm, and Sundays,from 10am to 12noon.Juniors also train Sundays, from 10am to 12noon.