Success stories and unsung heroes honoured at Wigan's Believe Sports Awards

Rising stars, inspirational achievers and unsung heroes were in the spotlight as the Believe Sports Awards made a triumphant return to cap a spectacular year of sport for the borough.
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Former badminton world champion and Olympic silver medallist Gail Emms was on hand to present the prestigious prizes at a glittering ceremony at The Edge – the first to be staged since the pandemic.

Around 350 invited guests were in attendance for the celebration, organised and hosted by Wigan Council’s Be Well leisure service.

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Coun Chris Ready, portfolio holder for communities and neighbourhoods, said: “It’s been a momentous year with the UEFA Women’s Euros and the Rugby League World Cup both coming to Wigan borough and local stars such as Ella Toone and Keely Hodgkinson shining on the global stage.

All award recipients on stageAll award recipients on stage
All award recipients on stage

“As well as being home to such remarkable talent, we’re lucky to have an amazing network of individuals and groups right across the borough who support others to reach their full potential.

“The Believe Sports Awards are all about recognising and rewarding the outstanding achievements and incredible dedication of local people and honouring the incredible community champions who do so much to help our grassroots grow.

“I’d like to say congratulations to all our worthy winners and a massive thank you to all those who make the Wigan borough sports scene so special.”

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Unsung Hero - Gary PenningtonUnsung Hero - Gary Pennington
Unsung Hero - Gary Pennington
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Among the winners was top cycling prospect Emily Burgess, who was named Young Sports Achiever of the Year, having retained her British Women’s Individual Championship title as well as triumphing at the British Elite Women’s Grand Prix.

Standish Community High School’s year eight rugby league team won Team of the Year after an unbeaten season saw them crowned National School Champions, on top of lifting the Wigan Schools Cup and the North West Schoolboys Trophy.

The Wilf Brogan Unsung Hero Award was presented to Gary Pennington, the chairman and secretary of Highfield Grange FC, for his dedication, drive and determination to help the club thrive; while Volunteer of the Year went to Stephen Price, who has started his own football team for members of the armed forces community.

Inspirational teenager Daniel Brennan took home the Changing Lifestyle Recognition Award, having overcome numerous setbacks to achieve a healthier, more active lifestyle with the help of Be Well’s Let’s Get Movin’ programme.

Young Achiever - Emily BurgessYoung Achiever - Emily Burgess
Young Achiever - Emily Burgess
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Club of the Year was presented to WigLe Dance, which has engaged more than 200 people aged five to18 in dance and physical activity over the past 12 months and staged weekly dance holiday clubs during the Easter and summer as part of the Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) programme.

Charitable organisation One Vision Media scooped the Inclusion in Sport Award for its work supporting people with disabilities to be more active and confident; and St George’s Central Primary and Nursery were the winners of the Martin Lynn School Commitment to PE and Sport Award, recognising their high-quality provision of physical education.

A raffle on the evening raised £1,300 in aid of the Mayor of Wigan Borough’s chosen charity Daffodils Dreams.

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