LEIGH Leopards and Bedford High have been celebrated as some of the outstanding achievers at a borough-wide sports ceremony.

The borough's thriving community sports scene was celebrated in style on Saturday, October 7, at the 2023 Believe Sports Awards - with British Olympic legend Eddie ‘the Eagle’ Edwards on hand to dish out the prestigious prizes.

An audience of 400 invited guests was at The Edge to see local rising stars, inspirational achievers and unsung heroes recognised for their amazing efforts over the past 12 months.

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Leigh Journal: Olympic ski jumper Eddie the Eagle led the ceremonyOlympic ski jumper Eddie the Eagle led the ceremony (Image: Wigan Council)
The annual ceremony, sponsored by JJH Building Contractors Ltd and organised and hosted by Wigan Council’s Be Well leisure and wellbeing service, also featured a special presentation by the pioneering ski jumper who became a household name for embodying the Olympic spirit.

Rugby League Challenge Cup winners Leigh Leopards capped their historic season with another trophy as their Learning Disability side claimed the Inclusion in Sport Award - one of eight prizes presented on the night.

Leigh Journal: Leigh Leopards' LDRL won the 'Inclusion in Sport' awardLeigh Leopards' LDRL won the 'Inclusion in Sport' award (Image: Wigan Council)
One of the members of that team, Tom Simms, was also recognised at Volunteer of the Year for his work with Leigh Community Trust and his tireless commitment to his local community club Golborne Parkside ARLFC where he has helped establish a new ladies team.

Team of the Year went to Bedford High School’s Year 7 boys rugby league team who made it all the way to Wembley in August as finalists of the prestigious Champion Schools tournament, while Highfield Cricket Club was named Club of the Year after winning its first major trophy in nearly 40 years - the Ray Taylor Knockout Cup. The club’s second XI also secured promotion this year.

Leigh Journal: Bedford High representatives with Leopards winger Josh CharnleyBedford High representatives with Leopards winger Josh Charnley (Image: Wigan Council)

In the other individual categories, 13-year-old Anya Foxwell was crowned Young Sports Achiever of the Year having excelled in both karate and swimming over the past 12 months, while Amanda Kershaw and the Black Scorpion Karate Club won the Sporting Challenge award.

The Unsung Hero Award was presented to Kevin Young in recognition of more than 40 years’ service to Ince Rose Bridge Sports and Community Club, while  the Changing Lifestyle Recognition Award went to Karen Stott who has overcome a number of health barriers to become a regular volunteer with Be Well’s Active Outdoors team - leading several walks across the borough on a weekly basis.

A raffle on the evening raised £1,070 in aid of the two tremendous local charities, Samaritans of Wigan and Manleigh Leigh.

Leigh Journal: The annual event took place at the Edge, in Wigan, on October 7The annual event took place at the Edge, in Wigan, on October 7 (Image: Wigan Council)

Councillor Chris Ready, portfolio holder for communities and neighbourhoods, said: “This year’s Believe Sports Awards ceremony was another fantastic occasion celebrating the outstanding achievements and astounding dedication of all those people who make our local sports scene so special.

“Sport plays such an important role in our communities and, as well as recognising all the tremendous talent here in our borough, it’s only right that we shine a spotlight on those incredible individuals and groups who put in so much time and effort to help others and to keep our community sports clubs going.

“Well done to all our worthy award winners - and, indeed, to each and every single one of our nominees; we really do appreciate everything that you do.”