WIGANERS already know Roy Wood is an unsung hero - now his friends want to make it official.
The Aspull wrestler, who has been giving up his free time to teach youngsters for more than 30 years, has been nominated for the Unsung hero award in this year’s BBC Sports Personality Of The Year awards.
But the deadline for voting closes on Monday, so past and present pupils are being urged to make their vote as quickly as possible.
Richard Moore, who is close friends with Roy’s daughter Andrea, and who went along to Roy’s gym when he was in his teens, says that without Roy’s care and kind heart, there would be many people across Wigan who wouldn’t be as good a person as they are today.
Richard said: “He’s a remarkable man. Between the ages of 12 and 16 I used to go wrestling with Roy.
“I spent a lot of time with him and he is a unique person.
“He isn’t just bothered about coaching wrestling – don’t get me wrong, he cares a great deal about it – but he genuinely cares for every youngster who comes to his classes.
“He cares about their behaviour and their progress and ensures that they are on the right track.
“I have values that will be with me for the rest of my life because of Roy.
“I’d go down after school each week. I remember once, I didn’t have enough subs but he just let me in anyway.”
Richard also told how there would be plenty of young people who were seen as disruptive or who didn’t particularly have positive backgrounds in attendance.
But when they were at the wrestling club, they knuckled down and behaved themselves.
Richard added: “It was out of sheer respect.
“Roy wasn’t intimidating or anything like that, but you just behaved yourself around him because you could see how much he put into it.
“The man is a true unsung hero and I hope he can be recognised like this.”
Daughter Andrea said: “I just think he is brilliant. He dedicates so much of his time to helping others and gets nothing back for it.
“I’ve always believed the most precious thing you can give someone is your time and my father epitomises that.”
Wigan’s MP Lisa Nandy said: “I’ve met Roy a number of times and the work he and Andrea do inspired me to become the Champion for Wrestling in Parliament.
“He has built up a fantastic club, putting Wigan on the map with some pupils competing in the Commonwealth games.
“With Roy, it isn’t a job, it’s more of a vocation.”
Roy said: “It’s very humbling. All I’m doing is what I like doing.I care as much about the kids and their behaviour as I do the wrestling which is important.
“I started wrestling when I was 16 and I’m 68 now so I’ve been doing it for some years!”
Nominations close at 11.59pm on Monday and you can put forward your vote for Roy by visiting www.bbc.co.uk/sportsunsunghero.