A WIGAN rugby prodigy has been awarded a prestigious scholarship named in memory of a former teacher who died from prostate cancer.
Standish High School student Rory Brand will be the first recipient of the Jimmy Higham scholarship and will start at Wellington College in September.
Jimmy, a former Standish High student, was a PE teacher at the college in Berkshire before his untimely death in 2011, aged 26.
Speaking to the Observer, Jimmy’s dad Colin said 16-year-old Rory - who represents North of England rugby union at under 16 level - was a worthy recipient of the bursary fund.
He said: “I have acted as chief scout, you could say.
“We were keen to find someone local as the first recipient and someone involved in rugby.
“I saw Rory’s name in the Lancashire squad this year and noticed he went to Standish High, like Jimmy.
“I met him and his family and took him down to Wellington - it blew him away.
“He had a lot of interviews with staff but he did very well and was offered the scholarship.
“It’s brilliant we are able to award this to Rory, he’s a nice kid and from a hard-working family.
“And he’s obviously a very talented individual.
Rory, who lives in Shevington with parents Eric and Shirley and sister Holly, grew up in Scotland but moved to Wigan three years ago.
Having played rugby league for St Cuthbert’s and union at Wigan RUFC, he now plays for Fylde and the Sale Sharks academy.
The talented 16-year-old is hopeful of representing England later in the year after performing well in regional trial matches.
Jimmy, who grew up in Aspull, represented Lancashire at schoolboy level and went to Durham University.
The bursary fund was set up last year to pay for a student from the North West to attend Wellington College, whose school fees can cost around £30k a year.
Rory’s proud dad Eric, said: “It’s a great honour and an unbelievable opportunity for Rory.
“He had been approached by a lot of schools about next year but the prestige of being the first Jimmy Higham scholar and being a representative of Wigan appealed to Rory greatly.
“Rory is someone who always has a desire to make the most out of his abilities both with his rugby and academically.”