Sports stars of the future were celebrated at the 17th annual Believe Sports Awards at the DW Stadium at the weekend.
The prestigious event, organised by Inspiring Healthy Lifestyles and sponsored by Wigan Council, also recognised the dedicated volunteers who support grassroots sports across the borough.
Over 300 guests attended the awards ceremony to applaud the winners, who this year included: Leigh Genesis, Wigan St Patrick’s ARLFC U14s
Magpies, Rick Atkinson, Daniel Dawoud, Danni Williams, Garrett Hall Primary School, Steven Johnson, Jack Brooker, Pete Prescott and Mike Hack.
Professor Kate Ardern, Director of Public Health for Wigan Council, who closed the evening, said: “These awards are an important milestone in Wigan Borough’s sporting calendar.
“This event is the perfect opportunity to thank and celebrate all of our home grown talent, sporting stars of the future and the coaches and volunteers who put thousands of hours of effort into shaping our sporting landscape as it is today.
"The Believe Sports Awards shows us why we should be incredibly proud of our sporting heritage within the borough.”
World class sport was also recognised on the evening in the form of Wigan’s own Olympian Jenny Meadows, making a surprise appearance at the awards to receive her 2010 European Championships silver medal, after being upgraded from bronze in the 800m following an investigation into doping offences of Russian athletes.
Further highlights of the evening saw guest speakers taking to the stage, including Wigan Athletic’s FA Cup winning captain and Wigan Athletic Community Trust trustee Emmerson Boyce, Wigan Warriors legend Steve Hampson and high profile sports psychologist, Michael Finnigan, who has worked with the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson, Jose Mourinho, Pele and even Wigan Athletic’s 2013 FA Cup winning team.
The latest successful applicants for the borough’s Believe Talent Fund also took to the stage for recognition on the evening, with eight local athletes provided with up to £500 worth of grants from Wigan Council, helping to fund travel, accommodation, competition fees and equipment.
Athletes awarded funding were: Charlotte Edwards (triathlon), Darcy Chesters (gymnastics), Maya Ray Campbell (GB freestyle kayaking team), Keeley Hodgkinson (athletics), Emily Bortwick (athletics), Max Evans (cycle speedway), Nathanial Fidler (fencing), Rohan Smith (fencing).
Gareth Cross, Chair of Trustees at Inspiring Healthy Lifestyles, said: “It’s a real privilege to be involved in an event that recognises not only the outstanding individuals and teams who strive to be the best in their sport, but also the amazing volunteers who go the extra mile to support that talent. Every nominee holds a special place in the sporting makeup of Wigan Borough.”
The full list of winners:
Coach of the Year - sponsored by Debit Finance Collections Plc - Rick Atkinson – Wigan Wasps Swimming Club.
Club of the Year – sponsored by Wigan Borough Sports Council- Leigh Genesis FC.
Wilf Brogan Unsung Hero Award – sponsored by Big Wave Media - Mike Hack (Astley and Tyldesley Cycling Club).
Sports Achiever of the Year – sponsored by Agilisys-Danni Williams (Musuko Karate Academy).
Volunteer of the Year – sponsored by Wigan Athletic Community Trust - Pete Prescott (Leigh Amateur Boxing Club).
Disabled Sports Achiever of the Year – sponsored by Realbuzz Wigan - Daniel Dawoud (GB Wheelchair Rugby).
Team of the Year – sponsored by Wigan Warriors Community Foundation - Wigan St. Patrick’s ARLFC U14s Magpies.
The Martin Lynn School Commitment to PE and Sport Award – sponsored by Alliance Leisure - Garrett Hall Primary School.
Changing Lifestyle Recognition Award – sponsored by Technogym - Steven Johnson (Leigh Leisure Centre).
Apprentice of the Year – sponsored by the Trophy Room, Atherton - Jack Brooker (Wigan Athletic Community Trust).
A selection of award-winners will now represent Wigan in the Greater Manchester Sports Awards at The Point, Old Trafford on Friday November 17 in the hope of being crowned regional champion.