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Pride of St Helens: Heroes saluted on a glittering night
THE heroic Andy Reid took the prestigious Pride of St Helens honour at a tremendously uplifting awards ceremony held at Langtree Park last night.
The ex-soldier was presented with the night’s headline prize in a week that marked three years since he lost both lower legs and his right arm in an Afghanistan bomb blast.
And the 36-year-old, who will become a father in six weeks, also collected the courage award as judges rewarded the indomitable spirit and remarkable journey he has been on since suffering the horrific injuries.
In a speech that moved some guests to tears, he said: “When I woke up in that hospital bed three years ago I thought to myself I’m a survivor, not a victim.
“I’ve lost too many friends out in Afghanistan to IEDs over the years. I had to get on with my life...and in six weeks time I’m going to be a father.”
Cancer fighter Steve Prescott, whose charitable foundation organised the event along with media partners the St Helens Star, attended despite having spent four days in Whiston Hospital earlier in the week.
He had been taken ill following the completion of another epic endurance challenge.
There was a surprise as Steve received a special award to mark his outstanding contribution to the town.
He said: “Six years ago when I was given months to live I was given so much help – and that changed me as a person.
“I wanted to give something back, I felt like I owed people and I wanted to make my wife and kids proud.
“St Helens is a great place. I want to thank everyone for supporting this, all the volunteers, organisers, and sponsors I can’t thank you enough for making this happen.”
In total, there were 11 categories on a moving night which featured heartwarming stories from more than 30 shortlisted nominees, all shared to the audience by presenters - Saints rugby league player Jon Wilkin, and Sky Sports reporter Fraser Dainton.
Boxer Martin Murray won the Sportsperson prize after narrowly missing out on bringing a world title belt back to the town when he drew with Felix Sturm in Germany.
The precocious junior middle distance runner, Matty Shirling, 15, was the Young Sportsperson following an outstanding season which saw him better Steve Cram’s record for Britain’s fastest ever under 17s time over 1500m.
Champion Fundraiser was Lynn Duffy, from the HoneyRose Foundation, a charity that makes dreams come true for people suffering with terminal illnesses.
The Saints Community Development Foundation was saluted with the Community Hero prize for their dedicated service to youngsters in the borough and Eamonn McManus, the St Helens rugby league chairman, was named as the Excellence in Business winner for delivering the club’s new stadium.
Carley Stenson, the actress and singer who has rose to the stardom on the West End stage, was the Performing Arts winner.
After collecting her prize Carley, from Billinge, said she was “overwhelmed” and described hearing the many emotional stories of townspeople who had triumphed over adversity as a “humbling experience”.
Gillian Haydock was named the Emergency Services hero for her dedicated service to Whiston Hospital’s special care baby unit and Dominic Hodnett of the Wildcard Boxing Club in Parr was Mentor of the Year.
Outstanding Academic Achievement went to Luke Hughes, 20, who has overcome serious illness and four major operations, to begin studying a degree in cricket coaching and management at the University of Central Lancashire.
Mike Denning, master of ceremonies and the chair of the SPF believes the event sent a message to people outside the borough that "we are here fighting to take this town forwards".
Steve Leary, who marked his 20th year as editor of the St Helens Star this summer, said that all those shortlisted are a credit to the town and had made a huge contribution to the success of the awards.
The Star has pledged to continue its campaign to champion the stories of those who inspire through their talent, courage, hard work and determination.
This week's newspaper will feature in-depth coverage from our team of journalists and a photo special from Dave Gillespie.
Solar King Pride of St Helens Awards - the results
Solar King Pride of St Helens award
- Paul Wellens (Highly commended)
- Andy Reid (Winner)
- David Collins (Highly commended)
St Helens Star Excellence in Business award
- Vinyline (Highly commended)
- Eamonn McManus: St Helens RFC (Winner)
- Mark Swift: The Wellbeing project (Highly commended)
Halo Legal Services Champion Fundraiser
- Cliff Williams (Highly commended)
- Lynn Duffy (Winner)
- Mencap Newton Gateway (Highly commended)
The Imperial Performing Arts Award
- UC Crew (Highly commended)
- Johnny Vegas (Highly commended)
- Carley Stenson (Winner)
St Helens College Outstanding Academic Achievement
- Luke Hughes (Winner)
- Jessica Southward (Highly commended)
- Rebecca Dineley (Highly commended)
Helena Partnerships Community Hero
- Jane Dearden (Highly commended)
- Saints Community Development Foundation (Winner)
- Janet Coy (Highly commended)
bocboc Courage award
- Peter Donnelly (Highly commended)
- Andy Reid (Winner)
- Billy Jarvis (Highly commended)
Typhoo Emergency Services Hero
- Gillian Haydock (Winner)
- Constable Henry Hayes (Highly commended)
- Antony Rochester (Highly commended)
Inspire Risk Management Mentor award
- Jane Cox (Highly commended)
- Dominic Hodnett (Winner)
- Kerry Ward Smith (Highly commended)
Hattons Gold Sportsperson award
- Mark Eccleston (Highly commended)
- Martin Murray (Winner)
- Paul Wellens (Highly commended)
St Helens Council Young Sportsperson
- Lucy Renshaw (Highly commended)
- Joshua Neal (Highly commended)
- Matty Shirling (Winner)