A wonderful year to be a Wiganer ...

Prime Minister David Cameron officially opens Wigan Youth Zone - one of the highlights of 2013
Prime Minister David Cameron officially opens Wigan Youth Zone - one of the highlights of 2013
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WIGAN Council has announced its plans to celebrate a wonderful year for the borough.

It has been an extraordinary 2013 with a number of spectacular events for the town and, of course, the remarkable sporting achievements.

It seems a long time ago now, but the start of the year brought the opening of a multi-million pound relief road which were a massive ease on traffic problems at the Saddle Junction.

But that was just the start and things soon got much, much better.

January also saw the start of Wigan Athletic’s historic and triumphant FA Cup run which culminated in them lifting the trophy in May after two Wembley trips.

They returned to the famous ground in August for the Community Shield before starting their European tour.

The Cherry and White half of town also had their most successful season for nearly 20 years.

Wigan Warriors brought home both the Super League trophy and FA Cup to add to the DW Stadium’s busy trophy cabinet. Meanwhile, up the road in Leigh, the Northern Rail Cup was won by the Centurions.

Away from the sporting pitch there were the openings of Wigan Youth Zone and the University Technical College, while across the road Wigan and Leigh College began a huge redevelopment of their campus.

The town also held one of its most successful and popular ever events too when the Wigan 10k was held and organised by local charity Joining Jack.

The multi-million pound restoration of the historic Mesnes Park was completed and Wigan Borough in Bloom was awarded a record 26 prizes by the Royal Horticultural Society’s judges and a £60million private scheme to transform Wigan town centre has been unveiled.

With all that to celebrate, the Council has been busy celebrating a major event to mark a year that will never be repeated.

The public will get chance to have their photographs taken with the silverware won by the borough’s sporting teams and three new stars will be unveiled on Wigan’s own Hollywood-style “walk of the stars” next Monday, December 9.

The recipients of the stars will be Latics chairman and Wigan Youth Zone president Dave Whelan, former Wigan Athletic manager Roberto Martnez and Warriors chairman Ian Lenagan.

Lord Peter Smith, Leader of Wigan Council, said: “This will be a very special event held to mark what has been an exceptional year for Wigan Borough. I’ve been involved in local government in this area for 30 years and can’t recall a more memorable 12 months.

“This has been a year to remember and 2013 has proved Wigan borough is a place to be proud of. We couldn’t let it pass without a celebration in honour of such remarkable achievements.

“We wanted to give the people of the borough the unique opportunity to see all four major trophies together. I’m sure the Grand Arcade will be packed with fans eager to see this glittering collection of silverware.

“I’m also delighted we’re honouring Dave, Ian and Roberto with stars. These three individuals have each made an enormous contribution to successes of the last 12 months.

“Dave Whelan was instrumental in the construction of the Wigan Youth Zone, a truly magnificent facility for our young people, while he also played a huge part in Wigan Athletic’s wonderful season.

“Roberto Martinez led the Latics to FA Cup victory – an outstanding achievement. Ian Lenagan has brought stability and success to Wigan Warriors. His leadership has seen the club enjoy its most successful season in years. They are each deserving of special recognition.”

The public will be able to see the FA Cup, the Challenge Cup, the Super League trophy and the Northern Rail Cup at a public event in the Grand Arcade Shopping Centre from 4pm until 5pm next Monday.

Before that, the three people closely connected with the major achievements of the past 12 months will have their names immortalised in Wigan town centre.

All the stars will be placed on the piazza outside the Life Centre, the multi-million pound home of Wigan Council’s public services. Previous star recipients include rugby legend Shaun Edwards and broadcaster Stuart Maconie.

Donna Hall, chief executive of Wigan Council, said: “The word ‘Believe’ was first adopted by fans of Wigan Athletic. When the club reached the FA Cup final, we worked with them on the “Believe in Wigan” campaign, which then seemed to take on a life of its own.

“It encapsulated something that resonated beyond sport. It became about pride in this borough and belief in what we can achieve.

“The campaign, and the triumphs of the past 12 months, have made people think differently about this area and it has made people who live here feel a new pride for the place they call home. We want to build on this momentum and take it forward.

“This borough can look forward to a brilliant 2014 and a bright future beyond that. We don’t want anyone to stop believing.

“But this event is all about 2013 and the spectacular success we’ve enjoyed. We want to recognise the individuals and institutions that have shaped this stunning year.”

Also in Wigan borough, more than 30,000 people attended the two Rugby League World Cup games at the DW Stadium and Leigh Sports Village, while the likes of David Lynn, Hayley Jones, Owen Farrell and Joel Tomkins all excelled in their chosen field.

Ms Hall added: “I’m obviously proud of the council’s own achievements, particularly in such a tough financial climate and with significant cuts to our budget.

“Despite the challenges, thanks to careful money management and financial planning we’ve been able to open a new relief road at the Saddle Junction that’s cut journey times for thousands of commuters.

“We’ve hosted another record-breaking Business Expo, launched a £2million Community Investment Fund, and opened a new multi-million pound depot that has cut costs significantly.

“We’ve proved Wigan borough really is a place to believe in.”

Now we’re looking for YOUR views on 2013 for our end of year Wigan Observer - tell us in no more than 50 words what has been the highlight of YOUR year. Anything goes ... the best will be published.

Add your comments below or email jean.fisher@jpress.co.uk - or you can tweet us @WigToday or tell us on our facebook page at www.facbook.com/wigan.today