IT was a night to remember for hundreds of people as the stars of local education were recognised at a sparkling awards ceremony.

More than 200 people packed in to Bournemouth's Cumberland Hotel for the inaugural Daily Echo School Awards last night.

Representatives from schools across Dorset and Hampshire enjoyed a champagne reception and gala dinner before watching the presentation of a total of 10 awards to those who have gone the extra mile for the benefit of children in the area.

Nominees, including teachers, support staff and leaders were supported by colleagues, family and friends and all received a well-deserved, warm welcome.

They were there to celebrate all the incredible work going on in schools across the area to ensure youngsters get the best possible start in life.

The Daily Echo was inundated with nominations after taking the decision to launch the awards.

More than 700 people were put forward, giving our judges a difficult task to whittle them down to three finalists in each of nine categories.

A special award was also presented after judges were touched by the care shown to two young pupils whose mum died.

Grandparents Marion and Brian Yetman and Lin Bartlett wanted to ensure Burton Primary School was rewarded for the way it looked after grandsons Dylan and Finlay, following the death of their mum, Caroline Yetman, from breast cancer in 2014.

The boys were just seven and nine-years-old at the time and, just six months after their mum died, their dad, James, went away for three months for a tour of the Middle East with the RAF.

The boys' grandparents said the school helped the boys to deal with what was going on in their lives.

And the winners are:

Nursery/Primary Teacher of the Year, sponsored by School Business Services Limited: David Payne from Dunbury Church of England Academy

Bournemouth Echo:

Middle/Secondary Teacher of the Year, sponsored by Jobshop UK: David Mastracola from The Bourne Academy

Bournemouth Echo:

Newcomer of the Year, sponsored by Teachers Building Society: Gillian Bennett-Lurie from Glenmoor and Winton Academies

Bournemouth Echo:

Support Staff Member of the Year, sponsored by Best Training: Mike Fitzgerald, Muscliff Primary School

Bournemouth Echo:

Art/Creative Team Member of the Year, sponsored by More Bus: Kate Richmond from Carter Community School

Bournemouth Echo:

Teaching Assistant of the Year, sponsored by Goadsby: Iona Bartlett from St Luke's C of E Primary School, Winton

Bournemouth Echo:

Lifetime Achievement Award, sponsored by Blue Sky Financial Planning: Jenny Sibbald from The Priory CE VA School, Christchurch

Bournemouth Echo:

Leadership Award, sponsored by Vocalzone: Nigel Helm, Upton Infants' School

Bournemouth Echo:

PE Teacher of the Year, sponsored by South Coast Windows Limited: Sheryl Rawlings from Wareham St Mary's Primary School

Bournemouth Echo:

Special Award: Burton Primary School

For details of all the winners and more coverage from the awards night, see a special supplement in the Daily Echo on Thursday March 24.