|A hat-trick of stars mark Wigan’s stunning year
Three people closely associated with Wigan Borough’s most memorable moments of 2013 will have their names immortalised in Wigan town centre.
Dave Whelan, Roberto Martinez and Ian Lenagan will be present as stars in their honour are unveiled on Monday 9 December outside Wigan Life Centre.
It will be part of a special afternoon of events to celebrate Wigan Borough’s spectacular success during the last year. The day will include a unique opportunity for the public to see the four major trophies the borough’s sporting teams have won in 2013.
The new stars will be added to Wigan’s own Hollywood-style “walk of the stars”, which is on the piazza outside the Life Centre - the new multi-million pound home of Wigan Council’s public services. Six other notable local personalities have already received stars – including rugby legend Shaun Edwards, broadcaster Stuart Maconie and heart specialist Dr Nayyar Naqvi.
Dave Whelan, who is already an Honorary Freeman of Wigan Borough, is awarded a star for his contribution to sport and youth projects in the borough. Mr Whelan is the owner and chairman of Wigan Athletic, who have enjoyed an historic 12 months that’s included victory in the FA Cup final and an exciting run in the Europa League. He was also heavily involved in the opening of the Wigan Youth Zone. The multi-million pound facility was opened by the Prime Minister in June and has been described as the best example of its kind in Europe.
Former Wigan Athletic player and manager Roberto Martinez gets a star for leading the team to FA Cup success. The one-nil win over Manchester City at Wembley was the club’s greatest ever achievement and propelled the Latics into a European competition for the first time.
Ian Lenagan, the chair and owner of Wigan Warriors, is awarded a star for his contribution to sport and youth training. The businessman and entrepreneur has led the Warriors to their most successful season in years, which has seen them dominate domestic rugby league by claiming the Challenge Cup and the Super League title. He also runs a successful training company based in the borough.
The three stars will be unveiled during a special ceremony led by the Leader of Wigan Council Lord Peter Smith. Lord Smith said: “I’m delighted we’re honouring Dave, Ian and Roberto with stars. These three individuals have each made an enormous contribution to successes of the last 12 months.
“Dave Whelan was instrument al in the construction of the Wigan Youth Zone, a truly magnificent facility for our young people, while he also played a huge part in Wigan Athletic’s wonderful season. Roberto Martinez led the Latics to FA Cup victory – an outstanding achievement. Ian Lenagan has brought stability and success to Wigan Warriors. His leadership has seen the club enjoy its most successful season in years. They are each deserving of special recognition.”
In addition to the stars unveiling, other groups and individuals based in the borough who have enjoyed success in 2013 will be recognised during the ceremony at Wigan Town Hall - including Leigh Centurions who won the Northern Rail Cup.
The public will then be able to see all the trophies won by the borough’s sporting teams at an event following the ceremony. The FA Cup, the Challenge Cup, the Super League trophy and the Northern Rail Cup will be on show in the Grand Arcade Shopping Centre from 4pm.
Lord Smith said: “This has been a year to remember and proved Wigan Borough is a place to be proud of. I’ve been involved in local government in the area for 30 years and can’t recall a more memorable 12 months. We couldn’t let it pass without a celebration in honour of such remarkable achievements.
“We wanted to give the people of the borough the unique opportunity to see all four major trophies together. I’m sure the Grand Arcade will be packed with fans eager to see this glittering collection of silverware.”
Aside from the major sporting triumphs, the highlights of the last year in Wigan include more than 32,000 people attending the two Rugby League World Cup games the borough hosted and two thousand people taking part in the inaugural Wigan 10k run. The Wigan Youth Zone and the University Technical College opened while Wigan and Leigh College begun its own ambitious transformation.
The multi-million pound restoration of the historic Mesnes Park was completed and Wigan Borough in Bloom was awarded a record 26 prizes by the Royal Horticultural Society’s judges. A £60million private scheme to transform Wigan town centre has also just been unveiled. And people with local connections, including David Lynn, Hayley Jones, Owen Farrell, Joel Tomkins and Jack Topping, have all enjoyed hugely successful years.
Donna Hall, chief executive of Wigan Council, said: “Everyone from Sports Personality of the Year to Songs of Praise has rushed to mark Wigan’s successes. This past year has proved the borough is a place to believe in.
“I’m obviously proud of the council’s own achievements during 2013, particularly in such a tough financial climate and with significant cuts to our budget. Despite the challenges, thanks to careful money management and financial planning we’ve been able to open a new relief road at the Saddle Junction that’s cut journey times for thousands of commuters.
“We’ve also hosted another record-breaking Business Expo, launched a £2million Community Investment Fund, opened a new multi-million pound depot that has cut costs significantly and launched our “Believe” campaign that’s attracted national and international attention.”