There were cheers and tears as the excellence of pupils, teachers, volunteers and schools was celebrated at the annual Wigan Observer and Wigan Post Education Awards.
Excited staff and pupils along with the new borough mayor Coun Stephen Dawber packed into host Wigan and Leigh College’s conference room to discover which 12 nominees had triumphed in this year’s hotly contested competition.
Primary school pupil of the year was Skye Burney from Canon Sharples CE School in Whelley who pipped Caitlin Turner from Holy Family RC School and Holly Capstick from Woodfield Primary to the prize.
There was special applause for Beth Molyneux, daughter of Standish submariner Ian Molyneux - killed trying to tackle a gunman eight years ago - who was named secondary school pupil of the year for her charity work. Other finalists were Molly Mae Murrary and Sam Boffey from Standish High and Emma Monks from the Deanery.
The prize for sustainable school of the year went to St Wilfrid’s CE Primary. Also in contention had been Ember McNamara who last year became the star of Wigan Council’s new recycling campaign.
Perhaps the biggest and most emotional ovation of the night went to the winner of the inspirational teaching trophy.
It was awarded posthumously to popular Deanery High chemistry teacher Joe Nolan who collapsed at school in April and later died. His widow Debbie stepped up to receive the accolade.
There had been seven other contenders in that category: Vicki Gleeson from St Joseph’s, Emmeline Goulding from St Wilfrid’s, Ashley Wilding and Ben Fisher from St Peter’s CE Primary Academy, Ruth Thomson from Standish High, Charlotte Smith from St Thomas’s CE Primary, Harry Clark from Canon Sharples CE Primary and Mrs Broad from Woodfield Primary.
Jennifer Green from The Byrchall High took the laurels in the sports achievement class, with Joe Seddon from Standish High and Olivia Wilkinson-Shaw from St John Fisher the runners-up.
Standish High clinched the school trips award, beating The Deanery and St Wilfrid’s CE Primary.
And there was further success for the Standish secondary school when pupil Alex Austin took the young scientist/engineer of the year title. Alex Burke from St John Fisher High was highly recommended.
Vicky Gleeson from St Joseph’s RC Primary celebrated the career aspiration award, Michelle Collier from Standish High, running her a close second.
In the health and wellbeing award St Catharine’s CE Primary beat off tough competition from Rose Crompton and Kirsty Banks from St Wilfrid’s CE Primary Academy, Standish High, St Joseph’s RC Primary and Canon Sharples CE Primary.
Parent volunteer Louise Cherry from St Joseph’s RC Primary won the unsung hero award. Daniel Hind from Golborne High, Karen Duffy from The Byrchall, David Glove from St Edmund Arrowsmith, Faith Richardson from St John Fisher and Mike McKenzie from Standish High were also in contention.
It was St Wilfrid’s which was named primary school of the year, fending off challenges from St Marie’s, Canon Sharples and St Joseph’s schools.
And Standish Community High celebrated the last award of the night, taking the secondary school of the year trophy. The Deanery and St John Fisher had also been finalists.
All runners-up were presented with highly commended certificates.
Afterwards Wigan and Leigh College principal Anna Dawe said: “This really was a tremendous celebration of educational excellence.
“This competition is getting bigger each year too. We will have to move to bigger premises next time at this rate.”