One thousand schoolchildren from across the Red Rose County have competed in the SPAR Lancashire School Games Finale for the first time in three years.
There was a real festival feel to the atmosphere as the Games returned to Blackpool’s Stanley Park first the first time since the pandemic and celebrations took place under sunshine and blue skies.
A wide range of sports took place on the day, and these included highly competitive football and netball tournaments and track and field events on the park’s athletics track.
The football tournament was won by Whitworth Community High School in Rossendale and the netball competition by Euxton Primrose Hill Primary School.
There was also a variety of activities that children enjoyed participating in, and these varied from dodgeball to tag rugby, cricket to golf, and orienteering through to samba drumming.
Alongside the physical activities, competition winners were also announced for the Lancashire School Games baton design and opening decree competitions.
William Taylor, age 10, from Brinscall St John Primary School, was winner of the baton design competition for his Chorley and Lancashire themed creation, and he led the opening parade of all schools around the athletics track.
Then, Emily Short, age 11, of Balderstone St Leonard’s CE Primary School, took to the main stage to read out her decree on playing sport in the right spirit. This was selected as the winner by judges to officially open the 2022 SPAR Lancashire School Games Finale.
A party in the park was held to finish off the day where the winners of the dance finals – Hodgson Academy in Poulton-le-Fylde and Sherwood Primary School in Preston – performed their routines again.
William said: “It was a bit daunting, but it was an amazing feeling to lead the parade to open the Lancashire School Games.
“For my baton design, I just thought about what was local to me in Chorley that I could feature, such as the canals and flower show, and also the Red Rose of Lancashire. I also included a rainbow in it, because in my view, imagination is all the bright colours.”
Emily said: “I was very nervous standing up in front of everyone attending, but once I had got through the first sentences, I found it more comfortable, and it was a great feeling to read it out.
“I couldn’t believe that my decree was chosen as the winner. Once I get flowing with my writing, I really enjoy it. I think the repetition in it made it powerful and because I play a lot of sports, I think I really understand the spirit of the games.”
The Lancashire School Games are run by Active Lancashire and The School Games Organiser Network, and they have been sponsored by SPAR for 15 years through SPAR UK’s primary North of England wholesaler and distributor, James Hall & Co. Ltd, based in Preston.
In 2022, the Games has engaged 10,000 children in sport and activities across Lancashire through 20 feature events and competitions, enabling opportunities to have fun, develop skills, and achieve personal bests.
The 2022 Games were also the first to have a baton relay around Lancashire’s 14 districts. Methods for transporting the baton around the Red Rose County included walking, running, by bike, on scooters, on horseback, and by boat with the support of the RNLI.
Phoebe Little, age 11, was part of the winning netball team from Euxton Primrose Hill Primary School at the Finale. She said: “It’s been a fantastic day. We lost our first game, but we really played well together as a team to recover from that, win our semi-final by golden goal, and then win the final.
“The Lancashire School Games is so good. Sport encourages teamwork and communication, and I am looking forward to continuing with netball at high school.”
Liam Kershaw, age 12, from Whitworth Community High School, was a member of the victorious football team. He said: “It’s been a brilliant finale and I’ve really enjoyed it. Today was the first time we have all played football together in a team so to win the competition is amazing.
“We had some very difficult games against some strong competition, but we won all of our matches and I think we deserved it.”
Niels Dekkers, Retail Development Director at James Hall & Co. Ltd, said: “The Lancashire School Games Finale was the best way to end a superb year of school activity that has been expertly put on by our valued partners at Active Lancashire and the School Games Organiser Network.
“All year we’ve been following the competitions and baton relay with intrigue and excitement, and the Finale highlighted perfectly why we are happy to put SPAR’s name to the Games as sponsor year after year.”
Adrian Leather, Chief Executive of Active Lancashire, said: “The SPAR Lancashire School Games Finale did not disappoint after a three-year hiatus, and we had a tremendous day of fun in the Blackpool sunshine. Congratulations to all competitors and winners on the day.
“This year has been a welcome return to the School Games programme, and it has been incredible to engage 10,000 children and young people across the year in physical activity.
“This could not be achieved without the continued support of SPAR and James Hall & Co. Ltd, and we thank them for enabling children and young people to enjoy positive experiences through sports and activities.”
You can find out more about James Hall & Co. Ltd at www.jameshall.co.uk.
Further information on Active Lancashire can be found at www.activelancashire.org.uk