Paralympic gold medallist Josef Craig has described 2012 as "the best year of my life".
The 15-year-old swimmer, from South Shields, is among those recognised in the New Year Honours list. He has been awarded an MBE for services to Paralympic Sport.
He said: "I'm really proud of everything that's happened and I feel really honoured that I've been part of such a big part of the year.
"An MBE is one of the greatest honours a person can be bestowed on them. For me to be even considered to have one, I feel utterly privileged and honoured."
Craig hit the headlines in the summer when he won Paralympic gold and broke the world record in the Men's 400 freestyle event at London 2012.
The 2013 New Year Honours list has been announced, including many from the North East and North Yorkshire.Read the full story ›
A children's coaching session for the visually impaired is being held at Newcastle United's training ground today to mark the Paralympic football team's visit to the North East.
Players from Newcastle United's first team have also been down at the ground as well as their manager Alan Pardew.
Children from the region have had the chance today to kick a ball around with players from this year's Paralympic football team.
The event is being run by Newcastle-based charity Henshaws Society for Blind People.
The Paralympic football team, along with their head coach Tony Larking, are in the North East to take part in coaching sessions for the visually impaired that are being offered by Henshaws.
Interview with Paralympian Josef Craig who opened Activate 2012 in South Shields, encouraging youngsters to join local clubs.
Video of Activate 2012, opened today by Paralympian Josef Craig.
Gold Medal Paralympian swimmer Josef Craig is in South Shields today to launch a festival aimed at encouraging more young people to sign up to youth groups.The free one day event is taking place in Bents Park.
It's being opened by the swimmer, who smashed the world record and became the youngest swimming gold medallist of the Paralympic Games.
Activate 2012 hopes to showcase the work of regional organisations and attract new members to sign up.
Activities on offer during the 5 hours event include BMX stunt bikes, skate boarding, circus skills, Chinese lion dancing, 7-aside football, magician shows, face painting, bouncy castles, craft and recycling workshops. The festival opens at 12 o clock.
Josef Craig, who won gold in the 400m freestyle swimming event in the Paralympics, has been met by school pupils, family and friends in Hebburn.