Blackburn with Darwen Sports Council held its Annual Sports Award Evening on Friday May 5th in the Legends Lounge at the home of Blackburn Rovers Football Club – Ewood Park.
The Mayor and Mayoress of Blackburn with Darwen were in attendance to present the Awards in the categories of:
Team of the Year — Primary School of the Year — Secondary School of the Year — Community Club of the Year — Young Volunteer of the Year — Adult Volunteer of the Year — Official of the Year — Lynn Hindle Award — Coach of the Year — Young Achiever of the Year — Services to Disability Sport — Junior Sports Personality — Senior Sports Personality — International Award — Lifetime Achievement Award.
Added to this list of Awards was a very special one deservedly made to Blackburn Harriers Club President – George Kirby. It was an Award in recognition of over 70 years of commitment to athletics in the Borough, in Lancashire and at National level.
(Mayor Hussain Akhtar – presenting George with his Award)
In moving the Award. June Steele of the Sports Council told the audience that it gave ‘her great pleasure to pay tribute to a man who had dedicated 71 years to the role he has played in the development of athletics in the Borough of Blackburn with Darwen’.
June went on to say ‘this journey began in 1946 when George, the PE teacher at Blakey Moor Boys School joined the Harriers. With several other enthusiastic teachers – Clarence Fairhurst, John Charnock, George Armistead – these were the main foundation of Inter-School Sports and Competitions in Blackburn – football, cricket and athletics’.
(George with Family and Guests including Club Chairman Tony Wood, Life member of Blackburn Harriers Ken Adroft and his wife, former International Sprinter Barry Kelly, George’s daughter and son-in-law, former Blackburn Harrier and Councillor John Wiiliams and his wife).
‘George was a Coach, Referee, Organiser with absolute dedication to the youngsters he brought into the world of sport’ June went on to tell the audience. His work ‘resulted in hundreds of children participating in some sport. He coached and encouraged some of those students to the go on to the Harriers, steering them through higher competition’.
June told the audience that ‘George always had an ambition, a dream, for a super top class Track to be established at Witton Park and over a ten year period, he and others worked tirelessly, alongside the Borough Council for this and in 1958 that dream became a reality’.….going on to host many events including the English Schools Championships, Open Meetings with international and Olympic athletes all competing in Witton Park.
The work that George laid down, working alongside the Council lives on and is evidenced by the new facility which has been built recently at Witton Park, including a Community Gym, an Indoor Training Track, a new outdoor track, new floodlighting and a Stand – appropriately named after the man himself – The George Kirby Stand. The partnership between Blackburn Harriers and Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council remains as strong as it ever was.
The night wasn’t over for the Harriers though as Hammer Thrower Jacob Roberts was Awarded both the Young Achiever of the Year Award and the International Award in recognition fo his achievements over the previous twelve months.