Last night our Patron, Alan Shearer, was honoured for his many achievements away from the football pitch at the North East Football Writers’ Association’s annual awards night in Durham.

Alan received the North East Personality of the Year trophy, a special award given in association with our Foundation to recognise someone who uses their position in football to benefit the wider community.

Football writer, George Caulkin, and Alan’s former Newcastle United team mate, Steve Harper – who are also Patrons of our Foundation – paid tribute to his extensive charity and community work.

And Steve, who is a previous winner of this award, had the audience laughing as he revealed what Alan was like as a roommate.

An enthusiastic supporter of a number of charities, Alan launched his own, the Alan Shearer Foundation, in 2012.

His thoughtful sports science documentary, Dementia, Football and Me, which investigates the potentially devastating link between heading the ball and dementia, was broadcast last year, shedding light on this important issue.

Alan says: “It was an honour to play football for a living. Now to be able to give something back with the charities I’m involved with is an even bigger honour.

“To be part of the dementia documentary recently was huge for our sport and at last the research has eventually started.

“It could be pivotal for the families that have campaigned for so long to help get the answers they deserve. So, to receive this award in association with the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation gives me immense pleasure.”

Colin Young, secretary of the North East Football Writers’ Association, says: “This is always a special night, bringing together the region’s football family and celebrating the best of the game.

“The focus is often on the Player of the Year awards and we were proud to honour both Martin Dubravka and Beth Hepple.

“However, it’s also very important that we recognise the significant contributions made by dedicated individuals within the game and the wider community, and we were grateful to have the opportunity to do that last night.”

Held annually at Ramside Hall Hotel in Durham, the North East Football Writers’ Association Awards night, sponsored by William Hill, celebrates the best of North East football.

The previous winners of the North East Personality of the Year trophy, in association with the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, are:

• Niall Quinn
• Robbie Elliott
• Steve Harper
• Jermain Defoe

Other recipients of North East Football Writers’ Association awards included Men’s Player of the Year (Martin Dubravka), Young Player of the Year (Josh Maja) and Womens’ Player of the Year (Beth Hepple).

And presentations were made to Stockton Town FC, South Shields FC, Marske United in recognition of their successes last season.

The Association also presented two awards – the Bob Cass Award and the John Fotheringham Award for outstanding contributions to North East football – to Adrian Bevington (Head of Recruitment Operations at Middlesbrough FC and formerly Head of Communications at the FA) and Louise Wanless (Head of Communication and Marketing at Sunderland AFC) respectively.