THE strength, courage, selflessness and talent of townspeople were celebrated on an emotional night at the 2017 Solarcrown Pride of St Helens awards.

The event, hosted at Saints’ Totally Wicked Stadium, saw the Lilac Centre, which treat cancer patients at St Helens Hospital, honoured with the headline Pride of St Helens award.

Judges felt that in the centre's 25th year it was right to shine the spotlight on the NHS team’s immense care and support after so many years of praise from patients and families.

Jeanette Ribton, chemotherapy lead nurse at The Lilac Centre, said: "We are absolutely speechless because of the other deserving people in this category.

"To have our patients and people in St Helens vote for us is amazing.

"We will continue to do all we can to help the people of St Helens."

Highly commended in the Pride of St Helens category were former rugby league player Tony Barrow, who died after a courageous and inspirational battle with cancer, and former soldier turned racing driver Tony Williams who made a remarkable recovery after being paralysed from the waist down after being shot in Afghanistan.

Organisers the Steve Prescott Foundation and media partners the Star remarked on the strength of nominations after a year that has underlined the resilience and spirit of the town’s community.

Among the night’s most poignant moments was when Glenn and Becky Youens, parents of four-year-old Violet-Grace, whose death at the hands of a hit-and-run driver devastated the town, collected the courage award.

The award recognised their dignity and strength in the face of unbearable pain – and their campaigning to raise awareness of organ donation.

The Eccleston couple dedicated the award to Violet.

Becky said: "This is really for our brave and kind Violet-Grace whose bravery keeps us going."

Becky and Glenn's plea for more people to think about organ donation was supported by Linzi Prescott.

Linzi’s husband, the great Steve Prescott, underwent a pioneering multi-organ transplant during his fight with a rare form of abdominal cancer.

This week marked the fourth anniversary of Steve’s death and surgeons say the lessons learned from his transplant have helped to save other lives.

It was announced that the Steve Prescott Foundation will work with Becky and Glenn to promote organ donor awareness.

In-depth coverage will follow online and in the Star’s print edition in the coming days.

Pride of St Helens winners 2017

Luxor Group Child of Courage: Alexander Prescott and Isabelle Carroll

FW Marsh Young Community Star: George Mathias

St Helens Council Young Sportsperson: Kieran Shirley

Assured Life Champion Fundraiser: Jean Newsholme

The Imperial Arts Award: Lynn Gerrard

Carmel College Leadership Award: Chris Smith (Haydock ARLFC)

Cosey Rentals Courage Award: The Youens family

St Helens RFC Sportsperson: James Roby

Renaissance Skincare and Beauty Unsung Hero: Thatto Heath Rugby Club volunteers

Invest in St Helens Excellence in Business: OD’s

Solarcrown Pride of St Helens Award: The Lilac Centre for cancer care at St Helens Hospital

The Solarcrown Special Recognition Award: Mike Denning