THE winner of the Young Sportsperson of the year award, sponsored by St Helens Council, went to 17-year-old Eleanor Cairns from Newton-le-Willows.

A budding young darts player, Eleanor has had a particularly difficult year after her mum Cath died in September with an infection to her heart.

However, showing amazing courage at such a young age, Eleanor played – and won – her first senior darts match less than 24 hours after her mum passed away, making her family “so proud” in the process.

Cath was said to be her daughter’s “biggest supporter ever” who had been rooting for her to get into the Lancashire seniors team, a highly respected, mixed open-age team.

With this in mind, Eleanor was determined to play once she had been selected, and despite her heartache, managed to achieve an amazing victory over Glamorgan in her first match.

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In addition to her senior selection, Eleanor has further proved her ability on the darts board; winning the British Open, Welsh Open, and England Grand Prix championships in the girl’s under-18 singles category.

With her unique combination of skill, courage, and determination, Eleanor was chosen as the judge’s winner in a tough category.

Shocked yet “so pleased” at her win, Eleanor said: “My mum would be so proud. I bet she is jumping up there – she would be so excited for me.

Explaining her decision to play the match against Glamorgan, she added: “It was a very difficult decision, however I think my mum would have killed me if I didn’t go so I just thought I’d go for it.”

Eleanor’s dad Alex and brother Jack were in attendance to see the young darts player take home the award.

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Alex said: “I’m so proud, it’s just fantastic. Her mum was her biggest fan, so for Eleanor to be so courageous and determined to take that step forward was amazing.”

From playing in pub leagues to winning national championships, Eleanor now has her heart set on making it professional in the sport.

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In another extremely strong category, which highlighted the strength in depth in the town’s community sports scene, young golfer Scout Wilson-Bonner and boxer Niamh May were highly commended.