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Fresh start as Audrey finally calls it a day.

Byline: By Bill McGuirk

Audrey Ogle had one final assignment to conduct before calling it a day as secretary of the North Eastern Harrier League.

Audrey was on hand at Start Fitness to perform the awards ceremony at the league sponsor's Newcastle outlet.

And, despite it being a sad occasion as she did the honours for the final time after 15 years at the helm, Audrey was happy that she was leaving the league in a healthy position.

"I've mixed emotions but when I see the athletes receive their awards at the end of the season that always leaves me with a lump in my throat," said Audrey.

"But to make this year a bit special I've just been informed that Start Fitness, who stepped in at the last moment to sponsor the league when our previous sponsors decided they were not in a position to carry on, have offered to do the business for next season.

"That is a boost to whoever comes on board as the new secretary.

"And it's also fitting on this special occasion that one of the recipients of an award goes to the owner of Start Fitness, Tony Wallett, who took time away from his business to finish in third place overall in the veterans' section, so he is picking up one of his own prizes.

"So, to Tony and the rest of the prizewinners I offer my warmest congratulations."

As well as Wallett, who runs for North Shields Poly, the leading vets award went to Sunderland's Tim Field who competed as a vet for the first time.

Over the past 12 years the Wearsider has finished in the top three in the senior section, but it has taken his debut in the veterans age-group for him to achieve his first overall win.

Splitting Field and Wallett for second place was another Sunderland Harrier, Tom Doughty.

The senior men's title went to Chester-le-Street's Stewy Bell, who was winning it for a record sixth time.

Always a great supporter of the league, Bell was quick to praise Start Fitness's backing for the first time.

"It's always difficult to get sponsorship, and for Start Fitness to quickly step into the breach is very much appreciated by all of the athletes," said Bell.

And he added, with tongue in cheek: "I suppose I'll have to try and win it for a seventh time now that they have announced they will be supporting the league next season!"

Sunderland's Steve Potts took the runners-up award, with Elswick's Ryan McLeod receiving the third prize.

The women's awards were declared by women's secretary, Val Gill, who, like Audrey, has announced her intention of standing down from her post.

Blaydon's Lianne Brown won the senior title for the second time, having won it previously in 2004, while Wallsend's Lisa Walker filled the runners-up spot for the second year running.

Elswick's Judith Nutt finished in third place.

In the veterans category, Elvet's Donna James was also a second-time winner, finishing ahead of Tynedale pair Karen Robertson and Stephanie Scott.

Tynedale was in pole position in the under-17/junior women's section, with victory going to Stacey Smith who finished ahead of Jenny Brignall (Heaton) and Gateshead's Mary Ferrier.

The overall young athletes awards, again sponsored by Start Fitness, were presented at the final fixture at Blaydon.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Apr 13, 2006
Words:552
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