ON Friday, November 24, we will celebrating the 11th annual Pride of St Helens Awards.

In this week's paper (in shops now) we published a 16-page supplement profiling each of the shortlisted nominees for this year's ceremony.

Throughout this weekend and next week ahead of the event at the Totally Wicked Stadium, we will be sharing our categories of nominees with you.

Here are your nominees for Mikhail Hotel and Leisure Group Pride of St Helens Awards. 

Over The Rainbow 

St Helens Star: Over The RainbowOver The Rainbow (Image: Over The Rainbow)

OVER the Rainbow is a social and support group for young people who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Trans.

Running a closed confidential youth group based in St Helens,it offers a group of like-minded people to socialise with safely.

For the last several years the group, run by Emma Cuerden, has made a real difference to young people, helping them develop skills and knowledge through partnership work with other agencies.

For some of these young people this group is the only place they can feel safe in being themselves.

The group provides friendship and an opportunity to share their experiences and supports the children during what can be long and difficult times.

Emma’s husband Jon said she “fights hard for the right of LGBT young people in St Helens, setting up the over the rainbow group for young people and parents”.

Her work includes going into schools helping them make them ‘LGBTfriendly’ and a safe place for children.

Emma, described as “an integral part of setting up St Helens Pride, is “a go to person for all matters of LGBTin the town”.

Even during the Covid pandemic, Emma made sure to have weekly check-ins with the young people to make sure they were safe and doing OK.

Michael Smith 

St Helens Star: Mike SmithMike Smith (Image: PDC)

2023 was the year that Michael Smith reached the summit of the darts world.

The St Helens darts star was crowned champion of the world in January for the first time, as he beat Michael van Gerwen 7-4 in an epic final at the Alexandra Palace in London.

Highlights of his stunning world final victory, included him hitting a perfect nine dart leg in the final, in the second set of the match, in what was branded the sport’s greatest ever leg.

His opponent had just missed a dart for a perfect nine himself before Smith hit the double 12 to achieve the feat.

The magnitude of Smith’s World Championship win and what it meant to him was clear for all to see as he ran off the stage after hitting the winning double jumping for joy to embrace wife Dagmara and his two children.

The victory came off the back of Smith’s first major title win at the Grand Slam of Darts last November as he ended his run of major final losses to cement his place among darts’ elite.

He was also awarded the Freedom of the Borough of St Helens in recognition of his becoming world champion.

Winning the Sid Waddell world championship trophy has propelled Smith into the limelight nationally and globally but he remains rooted in his hometown, with the trophy often on show at Smith’s parents’ social club St St Anne and Blessed Dominic Social Club in Monastery Lane.

St Helens Theatre Royal 

St Helens Star: St Helens Theatre Royal - Chantelle and JaneSt Helens Theatre Royal - Chantelle and Jane (Image: St Helens Theatre Royal - Chantelle and Jane)

THE St Helens Theatre Royal has played a vital part in the town’s arts scene for more than a century since the current building was opened in 1901.

And this has never been more the case than in recent years as the Corporation Street venue bounced back from the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Led by mother and daughter Jane Joseph and Chantelle Nolan, Regal Entertainments has managed the day-to-day running of the Corporation Street venue for more than two decades, also taking ownership of the theatre in 2021.

They have strengthened and continued to build the theatre’s professional reputation and standing within the industry, attracting household names and national touring shows.

They also producr the venue’s ‘in-house’ productions, including the three spectacular seasonal pantos and a stage play each year.

The Theatre Royal was hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns but the team ensured the arts scene in St Helens remained strong, launching a new theatre annual membership scheme in 2020 and taking pantos online.

With shows returning to the stage, the Theatre Royal has seen the arts scene weather the difficult climate caused by the lockdowns and come out the other side.

As a mark of this, Regal Entertainments, was nominated in four categories at the prestigious National Panto Awards 2023, with the Theatre Royal’s Christmas production of Cinderella last year in contention for a gong.