RAY French MBE has said that receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award is up there with his proudest achievements.

The veteran rugby player and commentator was presented with the inaugural accolade at the Pride of St Helens Awards on Friday evening.

Ray was honoured by the Queen in 2011 by being made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for services to rugby league. This was in recognition of his immense dedication to both rugby league and union as a player, broadcaster and teacher at Cowley school.

But being rewarded for his services in his hometown is something that he will cherish forever.

“I knew nothing about this award, and I got the shock of my life when I heard my name being called out, but it really does mean a lot,” said the 79-year-old.

“I wasn’t planning on coming this morning until my wife said I was going because of all I have done for Saints, so that’s why I’m here. I’m proud to be from St Helens. I was born and bred in the town and I have always found people from St Helens to be very friendly with a good sense of humour.

“I thought I was only coming for the dinner but I’m certainly glad that I came now.”

A true legend in his hometown, Ray will be known most for his unique commentary style after taking the reins from predecessor Eddie Waring at the BBC. He also frequented the BBC Radio Merseyside studio every Thursday as a contributor for Try Time, before hanging up his microphone earlier this year.

And although admitting that he is already fed up of the quiet life, he is still an avid supporter of the game which he says is and always will be ‘his life’.

“I’m bored out of my life to be honest with you,” joked Ray after being asked how he was enjoying retirement.

“In actual fact, I’m probably doing as much work as I was before, and I still go to three rugby games a week at either Saints, Widnes, Warrington or Wigan.

“I’m also very busy down and heavily involved at Moss Lane Rugby Union Club, who are doing very well.

“Rugby never leaves you and you’ll very much still be seeing a lot of me in rugby grounds across the area.”

When asked what the highlight of his glittering career would be Ray proudly said it would have to be commentating on Saints’ 21-2 Wembley victory over Wigan in 1966, which quite possible raised the biggest cheer of the night.

But it would be an injustice to restrict him to just one moment after a career most people in this town could only dream of.

“I really had to rein myself in during that final, but it was very difficult as you just got so excited when Saints scored,” he added, “Other than that, one of the special moments for me was to walk out on Sydney Cricket Ground playing for Great Britain.

“As I walked down the pavilion steps, all I could think about was how I was walking in the footsteps of the great Don Bradman, as I am a huge cricket fan.

“I also ended up commentating in some funny old places for the BBC like the jungles of Papua New Guinea, where I had to climb a 60ft tree with a rope to reach the commentary platform.”

One thing for sure is that Ray will always be considered a legend in these parts and it is only fitting that his lifetime achievements have been recognised in this way.