Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester, was given honorary membership of Leigh Harriers & AC at their annual Christmas Handicap races, held traditionally on the Sunday before Christmas which this year happened to be Christmas Eve; the award was made to recognise Andy’s involvement in the original idea of the Sports Village and in particular his involvement and support for the Harriers throughout the negotiations. His influence as a member of Parliament with the development of the Sports Village was invaluable and subsequently his idea for the Leigh School games at the Sports Village – involving a variety of sports including athletics – has become an annual event attracting over one thousand school pupils each year. The award of a framed certificate and a Leigh Harriers club vest were presented in the Harriers lounge after the Christmas Handicap – in which Andy sportingly took part – by Joe Galvin Harriers Chair and Angela Pike the Club Secretary. Andy responded by saying “over my sixteen years as an MP for Leigh, I developed a deep respect for the work of Leigh Harriers & Athletic Club and forged a close friendship with them. An Honorary membership of the club means a great deal to me and is something I will treasure. Leigh Harriers promotes a great community spirit both on and off the track. It brings people together from all backgrounds and abilities, promoting health and wellbeing and encouraging people to move more and get involved in physical activity, something I very much advocate as Mayor of Greater Manchester. Well done to everyone who is taking part this year “.
At the presentation Leigh Harriers 2017 Road Race Championship Awards were presented. The awards are for seven races in the Central Lancs Road Race Grand Prix held over the summer season, the winners received annual shields for each age group, awards for first three in each age group and sports vouchers. The awards were presented by Andy Burnham and the Senior Men’s winners were 1st Phil Williams, 2nd Neil Pendlebury and 3rd Tommy Henders. The Senior Ladies title was won by Olivia Stones, 2nd Laura Riches and 3rd Alison Jones. Veteran awards went to 1st Dave Smith, 2nd Alan Smith and 3rd Dave Pollitt; Lady Veterans were 1st Angela Pike, 2nd Susanne Smith and 3rd Diane Denny. The Junior awards went to 1st Kristian Wade, 2nd Joseph Wane and 3rd Sam Wade. The Junior Ladies winners were 1st Eve Williams, 2nd Keely Hodgkinson and 3rd Rebecca Pollitt.
Forty five runners took part in the Christmas handicap over a 4 mile course around the sports village; this year’s winner of the handicap race was Stuart Ince, Neil Pendlbury ran the fastest actual time in the race. The first lady in the race was Susanne Smith with Laura Riches recording the fastest actual time. The young athletes 1 Mile handicap was won by Eoghan Suter with first girl Gracie Galvin; the fastest time recorded in this year’s race was by Josh Swift who started 2:20 behind the starters and battled to come home in 2nd place.