Public vote launches to choose deserving winner to receive a year’s supply of coffee
The shortlist of nominees for Darlington’s local hero competition, run by indie coffee shop Mangobean in Feethams, has been announced.
Over the last couple of month’s residents in the local area have been nominating deserving people in the community who go above and beyond to show kindness and care to their fellow Darlingtonians for a chance to win a year’s supply of coffee.
Shuhel Ahmed, franchisee of Mangobean, the beverage-maker which brews delicious ‘roasted to order’ coffees, explained the idea to reward great people in the town was inspired by the warmth and support customers have been showing the year-old shop. “The people in our town have the biggest hearts and so it was a no-brainer to offer locals the chance to say thank you to extraordinary people they know.” He said. “The entries we’ve received clearly highlight what we already knew about Darlington; it’s a town full of unsung heroes and it’s time they were put in the spotlight and celebrated.”
The nominees have been whittled down to the following finalists; marathon runner Gillian Clason, who to date has raised £109,000 in memory of a family friend, Henry, who died from leukaemia when he was just three years old. Lifeguard and swimming coach Joanne Fell and paramedic Mark Fell devote their working lives to others and spend their spare time as scouts and beavers leaders teaching life skills to children.
Rob Irish has been praised for reinvigorating the local music scene by organising music festivals, acting as producer for up-and-coming local artists and helping youngsters develop their skills as musicians. Affectionately known as Pete the Sweep, 81-year-old Pete Woodmansey has dedicated many years of his life keeping the streets of Darlington clean and tidy - completely free of charge.
Last, and by no means least, is Beryl Hankin of Guru Boutique on Blackwellgate, who has been nominated for tirelessly promoting Darlington, championing small independent businesses and for her charitable work.
The public will be able pick their winner when voting opens on the Feethams Facebook page at from Monday 22 May until Sunday 28 May. The winner will be announced on the page the following week.
Simon Hawkins, Development Director with Urban & Civic – the property development company behind Feethams entertainment and leisure scheme – said he was thrilled with the response to the competition. “It’s been wonderful to read so many great stories about the people of Darlington, but I’m glad it’s up to the public to decide a winner and not me as, I’m sure many would agree, all of them are deserving of the local hero title. Be sure you cast your vote!”
More details on each of the shorlists can be found below.
Mangobean will be opening nominations again next month in the run up to Father’s Day, to nominate a hero dad to receive free coffee for a year.
Original nomination entries:
Gillian Clason
Gillian raises money for Henry who was diagnosed with Leukemia at just 9 months. She has currently raised a total of £109,000 and won’t stop there. She is soon to be taking part in marathon 13. The hardest marathon she ran was Boston, but she was also close to hypothermia on the last day of London to Paris after a torrential downpour after cycling 9 solid hours. She is also taking part in the Darlington to Amsterdam challenge.
Gillian is 36 and works at Bannatyne Health Club as a senior fitness advisor. She has just recently come back from the houses of parliament for Children with Cancer. In between all of this, she even finds time to fit in Zumbathons where she can – all for Children with Cancer!
Mark & Joanne Fell
Joanne works at Teesdale sports Centre in Barnard castle and is a lifeguard and swimming coach, Mark works as a paramedic for the ambulance service. They both spend their work life caring for people and watching over them but then they devote their spare time to the scouts in the area.
For years now they have been leaders of scouts and beavers and have supported the changes from males to unisex groups, so their own daughters could take part. They selflessly give up weekends to take part in scout camps teaching children of all ages and abilities to make fires, cook, put up tents, build dens etc. and join in team building exercises including washing in rivers etc. They have made lifelong friends with many of their scouts who have now grown into adults and a few who even have their own children too.
You will see them with their groups all smart and in uniform often on Sundays at formal services like Remembrance Sunday, Easter etc. and every year they are out on the bank holiday with fundraising stalls in all weather and bag packing in our supermarket.
Alongside all of that they watch over and support many of their friends who have or are caring for those with major illnesses. Joanne is also a regular at a ladies group who have met for ten years and supported each other through more than a few deaths from cancer.
Rob Irish
Rob Irish has single-handedly saved the local music scene with his passion, drive and the endless amount of effort that he puts in. He helped youngsters get into music and develop their skills as part of Access To Music programme where he was loved and adored by all. He founded Tracks, a music collective that helps improve the town’s music scene and works with local artists/businesses to achieve that.
Last year he put on numerous events including an electro festival, folk festival and in June he’ll be involved with Music Box Festival… And if that’s not enough he is also co-founder of Butterfly Effect, a local record label who release local artists on vinyl. On a personal level he’s one of the most talented musicians/producers in the North-East. He’s produced some top acts including Hayley McKay, Olivia Smith, Eve Conway, Zarahruth who have gone on to achieve great things in the industry. He’s also one half of the music duo The Black Sheep Frederick Dickens who have conceptualised a part of Darlington’s heritage and put it out there for the rest of the world to listen to. As a result Rob has played some of the best venues/festivals the U.K has to offer.
He’s a fantastic videographer, photographer and graphic designer and has combined all of his skills to create a successful career that has helped him earn a living but has provided cheap and at times free services to those who need it most. This has lead children/young adults who have otherwise been unable to afford to access the world of music/arts to thrive.
Overall despite being from a humble background and having overcome so many personal struggles to achieve what he has. Rob is a prime example of how being hardworking, kind and outward looking can lead to great things.
Pete the Sweep
At the age of 81, Pete still spends his time cleaning the streets of Darlington from rubbish and litter. Peter grew up in an orphanage in Beverley until rejoining his mum to move to Darlington when he was in his teens.
He started working for the Darlington Borough Council as a street cleaner and worked there most of his working life. Even though now retired, Peter continues to keep the streets litter free with no pay. Everyone knows Peter and he is a well-respected member of the community winning lots of environmental and personality awards. All Peter wants out of life is clean streets and to be recognised for the work he does.
Beryl Hankin
Beryl tirelessly promotes Darlington and is the champion of small independent businesses, particularly in the town Centre.

She is always there to listen to peoples individual problems and supports those less fortunate in so many ways with charitable work and good deeds. A good example is that she has a coat rack with warm coats for anyone who needs them.


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