GALLERY: Best of Wigan Awards 2022
Hundreds turned out to mark the Wigan Observer’s inaugural Best of Wigan Awards.Sponsored by Wigan Warriors and Wigan Athletic, the competition honoured the people who have made a real difference in our borough.Whether they have helped to save a life, raised money for a good cause, taken action to protect the environment, impressed in the sports arena or done another inspirational act, all the nominees and winners had gone the extra mile.
A glittering ceremony, compered by radio presenter Chris Milow, took place at the DW Stadium.
The winners were as follows:
999 HERO AWARD – Brian Belshaw, who saved his wife’s life from a blaze at their family home.
ACT OF BRAVERY AWARD - Sponsored by H.W Moon Toyota – Oliver Allison who as a baby was diganosed with a cyst on his brain and Down’s syndrome but has been a wonderfully loving son.
CHARITY FUND-RAISER AWARD – Nigel Brookwell who has raised thousands of pounds for charity with a number of gruelling trials including a literal pub crawl on his hands and knees.
COMMUNITY CHAMPION - sponsored by Fairhurst Accountants – Jeff Picton, a scouting legend who set up Wigan’s first minority BAME group.
FAMILY OF THE YEAR – Sarah Gee and Darren Barnett, all three of whose children have rare and severe disabilities.
GRASS ROOTS SPORTS AWARD - Sponsored by Wigan Warriors – Lisa Woods, who has been head coach of Ashton Central Swimming Club for 26 years and done it all for nothing.
GREEN CHAMPION AWARD - Sponsored by Wigan Council – Grow Your Mind, which established a wellbeing garden from unused allotments at Pennington Park which are good for mental health as well as the environment.
HEALTH HERO AWARD – Margaret Sanders, Rebecca Melling and Ellen Maxwell who are health outreach workers who provide support, healthcare and health screening for the most vulnerable groups in society, including the homeless, asylum-seekers and refugees, sex workers, victims of trafficking, travellers, victims of domestic abuse and people fleeing war and persecution.
INSPIRATIONAL YOUNG ADULT - Sponsored by Wigan and Leigh College – Katie Allen, who has learning difficulties, lost both her parents in the space of 18 months and had to organise their funerals.
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD - Sponsored by Winstanley College Brian Halliwell (posthumous) who not only ran Wigan’s biggest funeral service but was also heavily involved in all manner of charitable and community organisations.
YOUNG PERSON OF COURAGE - Sponsored by St John Rigby College – Louie Martland, who did brilliantly in his GCSEs despite serious disabilities and having a major op during his exam preparations.
PRIDE OF WIGAN - Sponsored by Wigan Athletic – Joseph’s Goal, a Wigan-based charity which has now raised more than £1m for research into the rare condition NKH which its inspiration Joseph Kendrick has.
AMBASSADOR AWARD – Uncle Joe’s Mint Balls, a household name which has proudly flown the Wigan flag for almost 125 years.
Representatives of the event’s two key sponsors spoke at the ceremony.
Executive Director of Wigan Warriors Kris Radlinski said: "It is a very very special town to us and an honour to sponsor this awards.
"It is important that the people and the heroes in this town are recognised.”
Malachy Brannigan, Chief Executive of Wigan Athletic FC, added: “When I came into the town last year, I had a good walk around and I just saw a town that did things.
"But now with these awards we are shouting about these things.”