Andy Reid: 'I love being in St Helens and wouldn’t live anywhere else, even if you paid me' (From St Helens Star)
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Andy Reid: 'I love being in St Helens and wouldn’t live anywhere else, even if you paid me'
4:43pm Thursday 18th October 2012 in News
ON the eve of the third anniversary of the devastating explosion which changed his life forever, heroic Andy Reid was acclaimed as the Pride of St Helens.
The 36-year-old ex-soldier, who lost both lower legs and right arm in an Afghanistan bomb blast, took the headline honour at a tremendously uplifting awards ceremony held at Langtree Park.
Judges rewarded the sheer strength of character and inspirational qualities that have been chronicled by the St Helens Star since the autumn of 2009.
The former corporal with the 3rd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment, told the audience at the inaugural Solar King Pride of St Helens awards: “It’s been a massive journey, but I’m a survivor, not a victim. I’ve lost a few friends to IEDs. Christopher Davies from St Helens was killed out there, but I’m still here. I can’t sit down and do nothing.”
Andy, who also picked up the Courage Award, said: “It’s better than getting a medal for going on tour.
“I have won military awards, but this is ten times better than that. To be recognised by your own town is unbelievable, especially when you’re up against someone like Wello (Paul Wellens).”
Speaking six weeks before he is due to become a father, he described how he drew strength from others in the room: “Steve Prescott inspires more every day. And I think if Steve can do it, maybe I can do it too. And little Billy Jarvis (the leukaemia patient), who has fought so much at such a young age.
“I’m just a real person from St Helens; not a super athlete or superhuman, just a person.
“I love being in St Helens and wouldn’t live anywhere else, even if you paid me.”
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 and precocious junior middle distance runner, Matty Shirling, 15, was Young Sportsperson.
Champion Fundraiser was Lynn Duffy, from the HoneyRose Foundation, and Saints Community Development Foundation was saluted as the Community Hero.
Eamonn McManus, the St Helens rugby league chairman, was named as the Excellence in Business winner for delivering the club’s new stadium.
While Carley Stenson, the actress and singer from Billinge 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.