JUNIOR AWARDS: WIRRAL'S talented children ensured the region lived up to its reputation as the sporting peninsula at a special awards ceremony last week.
The Celebration of Sporting Success in Wirral schools showed the bredth and depth of skill and achievement across a range of activities, as well as the singing range of children and adults alike with a stirring rendition of 'Swing Low, Sweet Chariot' in honour of England's World cup victory.
Bob Saunders, the general inspector for physical education and outdoor education in Wirral, said he is always amazed by what Wirral' s young sportsmen and women have achieved.
"It is fantastic for a small authority like us to do so well in so many sports and events like this help to raise people's awareness of that," he added.
"Sport can have a tremendous effect on youngsters and has a huge part to play in the social inclusion agenda. In a couple of years the British Open comes to Wirral and I am pleased that the eyes of the world will be on this peninsula as we have so many good things happening in sport.
"I hope some of the money that will be generated will be reinvested in education and sports development so we will be able to achieve our main aim.
"That is providing the best possible opportunities to all youngsters whatever their age, gender or standard of performance."
Held at Wallasey Town Hall, the celebration was attended by England Ladies cricketer Claire Taylor, ex-Everton and Tranmere footballer Gary Stephens and Manchester City legend Francis Lee.
Individual achievements were recognised alongside school and club success in sports including kayaking, orienteering, football and hockey.
Bebington High School, Hilbre High School, Plessington Catholic High School, St Anselm's College, South Wirral High School, Wallasey School, Weatherhead High School, West Kirby school, Wirral Girls and West Kirby Residential school were presented with the Sportsmark award from Sport England for excellence and variety in PE provision.
The Activemark award was given to primary schools Church Drive, Grove Street, Pensby and The Lyndale school for the same reason.
Calday Grange secondary school recieved the Sportsmark gold award for their extra commitment and excellence in teaching PE and providing opportunity for their pupils, as did Activemark gold winners St George's Primary, Sandbrook Primary, St Peters Primary and Prenton Juniors.
Mr Saunders praised their efforts and compared their success to England's rugby union team.
"They didn't just turn up and become world champions - instead they spent year practising and training and eventually they received their rewards for that," he said.
"They managed to make the best use of their talents and that is something everyone should try to do."
That point was not lost on cricketer Claire Taylor. Claire, who has played moe than 100 times for England as well as 25 times for the England football team, said that the youngsters should adopt her motto of 'give it a go'.
"You have to make the most of every opportunity because you never know, you might be absolutely brilliant at something that you haven't tried yet, but if you don't try it, you will never know," she said.
"I had no real plan to play for England, it just happned, and while that might sound blase, I gave it my best shot and got out of it what I put in, which was everything."
The ceremony also honoured the Wirral Sports Council young sportsperson of the year Bobby Dillon, coach of the year Pat Spencer, lifetime achieve-ment winner John Sheddon, club of the year Caldy RUFC and Pat Toner, the volunteer of the year.
And some of the longest and loudest rounds of applause were reserved for gymnastic displays from West Kirby and Wirral Gymnastics clubs.