Tyne & Wear

Paralympian Josef Craig given new year honour

Josef Craig with his gold medal
Image caption The teenager was Britain's youngest gold medallist at the 2012 Paralympics

Paralympic gold medallist Josef Craig is among those recognised in the New Year Honours list.

The 15-year-old swimmer from South Tyneside is appointed MBE.

He was also named the BBC's Young Sports Personality of the Year earlier this month.

Among others honoured are Northern Stage chief executive Erica Whyman, who becomes an OBE, and John James Fenwick, deputy chairman of Fenwick Ltd, who becomes a CBE, and community champions.

They include Northumberland swimming coach Christine Hall who received the British Empire Medal (BEM) for her work for Tynedale Amateur Swimming Club, which she has been involved with for about 25 years.

The 57-year-old's involvement started when her children began swimming with the club and has developed into a full-time role as head coach and co-ordinator.

She spends up to 17 hours a week coaching, including opening the pool up at Hexham just after 05:00 GMT, and travels to competitions at weekends.

During her time at the club it has developed and now 120 children are involved across six different squads.

Mrs Hall spoke of her pride at being recognised for something "her life revolves around" and praised the other people who worked alongside her.

Image caption Robert Oliver is recognised for services to the Cullercoats community

She said: "Nobody ever does it for an award but it is nice to have appreciation.

"I am just immensely proud."

Robert Oliver also received the BEM for services to higher education and to the community of Cullercoats.

The 47-year-old has been porter and handyman at Newcastle University's Dove Marine Laboratory for nearly eight years.

He also volunteered with the Cullercoats lifeboat crew for 30 years before he was forced to retire earlier this year after having a hip replacement. His family's links with the crew go back six generations.

He said: "It's nice to get recognition for anything you do but it's not what I do it for.

"It is good to have your name put forward never mind to receive one."