Believe Winners 2018

SPORTS stars of the future were celebrated at the 18th annual Believe Sports Awards at the DW Stadium, Wigan, on Friday 12th October.

The prestigious event, organised by Inspiring healthy lifestyles and sponsored by Wigan Council, also recognised the dedicated volunteers who support grassroots sports across the borough.

More than 300 guests attended the awards ceremony to applaud the winners, who this year included: Coach of the Year, Danielle Knowles from Wigan Vipers Cheer and Dance; Disabled Sports Achiever of the Year, Anya Butterworth from the Dwarf Sports Association UK and Sports Achiever of the Year, Keely Hodgkinson from Leigh Harriers.

Cllr Jim Moodie, Wigan Council’s lead cabinet member for leisure said: “We are extremely proud to sponsor this award’s ceremony.

“Our Believe Campaign encourages people to strive to achieve and to improve their lives and this is certainly demonstrated at these awards, year on year, though the dedication shown by local sports clubs, schools, volunteers and organisations.

“Wigan Council recognises the role that such individuals and groups play in our community and how this reflects the principles of the Wigan Deal - by helping and encouraging people in Wigan Borough to lead healthy and active lifestyles.”

Highlights of the evening saw guest speakers taking to the stage, including Taekwondo World Champion Mahama Cho.

Gareth Cross, Chair of Trustees at Inspiring Healthy Lifestyles, said: “What a night. “It was a real privilege to meet so many inspirational people and hear their stories. “From those who strive to be the best in their sport to those making a real difference in their communities through the power of sport.”

Some of the latest successful applicants for the borough’s Believe Talent Fund also took to the stage for recognition on the evening. Ten young sport stars will receive up to £500 from the Believe Talent Fund (part of Wigan Council’s Deal for Communities Investment Fund) to help them pay for travel, accommodation, competitions or training fees and equipment.

This year’s awards were made possible through kind support and sponsorship of Wigan Council, Link Contracting Ltd, Big Wave Media, Alliance Leisure, DFC, Agilisys, Wigan Athletic Community Trust, F Parkinson Ltd, Technogym, Wigan Warriors Community Foundation and the NPS Group.

Winners on the evening were:

Coach of the Year: Danielle Knowles – Wigan Vipers Cheer and Dance.

Danielle is the Head Coach of Wigan Vipers Cheer and Dance.

When she started at the club in 2015, she had only 10 members in her classes. Now she trains over 50 competitive cheerleaders up to level 3 in cheerleading, tumbling and dance. 


Danielle took 17 athletes to the European Championships in July who were personally invited by the UKCA to attend this international competition.

The club performed at their biggest event for Wigan Warriors at the DW stadium in 2018 and have won several Championship titles.




Last updated: 15 October 2018
Apprentice of the Year: Thomas Little – Wigan Athletic Community Trust receives his award from Taekwondo World Champion Mahama Cho.
Apprentice of the Year: Thomas Little – Wigan Athletic Community Trust receives his award from Taekwondo World Champion Mahama Cho.

Apprentice of the Year: Thomas Little – Wigan Athletic Community Trust.

Tom’s role involves assisting the delivery of high quality PE and sports coaching in local schools, soccer camps and community-based football events. He has also supported new apprentices and provided a pathway for others to contribute to local sport.

Tom also coaches Ashton Park U10’s football team. Following completion of his apprenticeship in March 2018, Tom has continued working as a head coach.

He is beginning his Foundation Degree with the Trust in ‘Community Football Coaching and Development’ from this September.

Disabled Sports Achiever: Anya Butterworth – Dwarf Sports Association UK.

Anya competes for the Dwarf Sports Association UK in football, swimming, basketball, badminton, track & field and boccia.

Anya has weekly street dance classes and a swimming programme to help with general fitness, with additional lessons during times of competitions, and also attends monthly football and basketball training in Birmingham.

She competed in the 2017 DSA World Games in Canada with 22 countries taking part. Anya captained the GB Football Team to a gold medal and in total Anya won 9 Gold, 3 Silver and 1 Bronze medals.

Sports Achiever of the Year: Keely Hodgkinson – Leigh Harriers.

Keely trains 5 days per week – completing her strength and conditioning programmes, before training for 2 hours a day and also revising for her GCSEs.

She is competing at international level having represented England in a home nations Cross Country meet - finishing 4th overall & winning team gold for England.

Keely also represented GB at the U18 European champs in Gyor, Hungary in the 800m where she won gold to become U18 European champion and broke the championship record in the process.

She is now training to retain her U17 national 800m title and to represent the north of England, in the 800m, at the UK school games.

Deal Community Programme of the Year: Bowl and Plate – Garswood Hall Bowling and Community Club.

Bowl and Plate started in April 2017 and runs for three hours each Friday. They turn no one away and project is now attended by up to 75 people each week.

They welcome and integrate the entire range of the borough’s residents, catering for individuals with mental health problems, the bereaved and those with poor health.

Volunteers have been trained to help attendees identify their physical strengths and abilities and then match them to appropriate activities at the club to suitably engage vulnerable people in the community.

Martin Lynn School Commitment to P.E and Sport: St George’s Central Primary School, Tyldesley.

The school hosted the FA Primary PE Teachers Awards in 2018, attended by school staff and over 20 external professionals.

The school have worked with specialist sports coaches including Jenny Meadows for athletics and Chris Kirkland for football goalkeeping.

All classes now have 2 hours of weekly PE, swimming is offered, and also, the Daily Mile.

The school has been involved in over 35 inter-school sporting competitions, providing 260 opportunities for over 3000 children to take part in competitive sporting events and has strong links with 30 local sports clubs.

Changing Lifestyle Recognition Award: Sally Skellern.

A police officer by profession, Sally endured multiple injuries through her work leading to numerous lengthy operations and procedures which caused extreme weakness in her body. At one point she was taking 20 tablets a day to manage her pain. During her recovery period from the operations she gained weight. Determined to do something about it she decided to join Howe Bridge Leisure Centre.

She is now off all medication, attending classes regularly and hitting personal bests on a weekly basis. Her fitness has drastically improved and she is now inspiring others with her transformation – especially her old police colleagues.

Her starting weight was 62.5kg and Body fat 36.8% currently Sally is weighing 48.8kg and her bodyfat is a lean 12.5%, achieved in just over 7 months.

Team of the Year: Hawks Intensity Diamonds Cheer and Dance.

Since this team was created 3 years ago they have committed themselves to training up to three nights per week, every week.

Hawks Intensity Diamonds are made up of girls aged 15 to 20-yeards-old and all have committed themselves to improving from a national team to an international one. This year they dedicated their time around exams and full-time jobs to achieve a World Bid to compete on an international scale.

In the last 12 months the team has climbed the rankings to reach 2nd place in the UK. This earned them a qualifying bid to compete at the Cheerleading & Dance World Championships in Florida in April 2018 and placed 13th from 31 teams.

Volunteer of the Year: David Clarke – Disability Dance, Wheels For All.

David volunteers as a peer mentor at weekly Wheels for All and disability dance sessions. He was previously a participant at these sessions and now is positively influencing other young people with disabilities to take part.

He also volunteers at Norley Hall Adventure Playground each week supporting a range of tasks, and also at Wigan Youth Zone.

This year David has given over 1000 hours to volunteering, volunteering 6 days a week.

David recently secured a part time job; his calendar is full but he always finds time to volunteer and puts in 100% effort each day.

Club of the Year: Astley and Tyldesley Cycling Club.

Astley & Tyldesley Cycling Club has more than 110 members. The club has its own race track and facilities, which is maintained by the club and its members, and caters for all ages from 3 to 75 years old.

They are currently 1st place in each cycle speedway division in 2018.

The club has five British Cycling qualified coaches, one British Cycling qualified Ride Leader and they have actively recruited women and girls riders, with the club finishing 3rd in both the women and U-6’s Girls British Cycle Speedway Club Championships.

This year, they were the first club ever to win all three North & Scotland League Divisions in the same season and were the National winners of British Cycling's Go-Ride Club of the Year 2017 (first out of 370 clubs), therefore currently ranked as the top cycling club in the UK.

Wilf Brogan Unsung Hero: Kath Pilkington – Vogue Morris Dancers.

Kath has ran Vogue Morris Dancers for more than 40 years. She has taught girls from 3 to 40-years-old to become champion dancers winning countless medals and trophies.

She gives them a desire to achieve and believes in each, and every one, providing opportunities for all abilities. She choreographs all the dances and music and strives to get the best out of each individual.

She is constantly on the phone organising, making sure no girl is let down. Kath arranges bag packing at Tesco to fundraise to support disadvantaged young people.

This year alone she has trained 6 troupes ranging from babies, dinkies, tinies, juniors and seniors to be troupes of the year and award-winning teams.


Athletes awarded Believe talent funding in 2018 were:

Charlotte Edwards, aged 15, of Wigan Triathlon Club competes in triathlons nationally. 

Holly Toone, aged 12, plays waterpolo and is part of Tyldesley Water Polo Club. She will use the funding towards training with the England Academy Squad.

Wrestling star Charlie Bowling, aged 22, part of Aspull Warriors and Team GB is attending an international open in Estonia.

Gymnast Darcy Fae Chesters, aged 13, of Manchester Gymnastics Academy is part of British Gymnastics.

Bradley Metcalf, aged 15, of Aspull Warriors Wresting Club will use the funding to take part in an international competition for Team GB. 

Nathaniel Fidler, aged 15, of Manchester Fencing Centre, competes for the national squad.

Adam Berry, aged 17, of Aspull Warriors Wrestling Club is part of the national squad and competes for Team GB.

Gymnast Johnathan Rimmer, aged 20, of Wigan Seagulls and Wakefield Gymnastics Clubs is part of British Gymnastics competes in Tumbling.

Runner Keely Hodgkinson, aged 16, will use the funding to support her national and international competition calendar. Keely is part of Leigh Harriers.

Calum Coleman, aged 17, plays rugby league for Leigh Miners and has been selected for the England Lions U19 Tour.

Club of the Year - Astley and Tyldesley Cycling Club
Club of the Year - Astley and Tyldesley Cycling Club
Kath Pilkington from Vogue Morris Dancers receives her Wilf Brogan Unsung Hero award.
Kath Pilkington from Vogue Morris Dancers receives her Wilf Brogan Unsung Hero award.
Disabled Sports Achiever: Anya Butterworth, Tyldesley – Dwarf Sports Association UK receives her award from Taekwondo World Champion Mahama Cho.
Disabled Sports Achiever: Anya Butterworth, Tyldesley – Dwarf Sports Association UK receives her award from Taekwondo World Champion Mahama Cho.