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A YOUNG sailor has earned a national award after steering a whole new course away from a life blighted by drink, drugs and personal tragedy.

Kieran Maxwell, 21, beat 8,000 young people to win the Torbay Cup for outstanding individual achievement and personal effort during this year's Tall Ships Races.

The award marks a remarkable turnaround in Kieran's life.

He moved to South Shields at the age of seven, after his father was jailed for the manslaughter of his mother.

He lived with his grandparents in Harton and attended St Wilfrid's School, in Temple Park Road. He fell into a life of crime as a teenager, developed a drink and drugs habit – and eventually found himself homeless.

But taking up sailing in January this year has helped him turn his life around.