Oldham Sports Awards honour for Saddleworth duo

A SADDLEWORTH School teacher and former pupil were both honoured at the Oldham Sports Awards.

Long-serving teacher Richard Meadowcroft topped the class in the contribution to school sport category and Erika Heginbotham was named young volunteer of the year.

Richard Meadowcroft, centre, receives his award from Steve Ferriss, sport development officer

Richard, who has taught at Saddleworth School for 30 years, estimates he has taken charge of hundreds of in and out-of-school sports fixtures.

His main interests have been football, tennis and badminton with the school sweeping the boards in Oldham schools’ badminton tournaments in recent years when they have also represented the borough in Greater Manchester finals along with tennis.

But he described it as a team effort at Saddleworth as Gary Melling focuses on rugby and basketball and Adele Bentley on athletics.

And Richard, 52, added that Saddleworth School in a leading light in school sport in the borough, a great achievement bearing in mind they don’t have the best facilities.

Richard explained he has taken great satisfaction in helping pupils go on to greater things.

He explained: “You hope you can make a difference and some of our former pupils have gone on to become household names.

“Kevin Sinfield was in my first GCSE PE group and his son Jack is now in year eight.

“We have also had Kyle Hogg who went on to play cricket for Lancashire, professional footballers Chris Taylor and Harry Bunn along with swimmer Jess Lloyd.

“And our most recent success has been Dion McGhee who has just landed a scholarship at Manchester United.”

Richard, who lives in Stockport, still plays competitive tennis for West Heaton in the North East Cheshire League while he was a footballer in the Lancashire and Cheshire League.

Olympic Games gold medallist Nicola White and (above right) Erika Heginbotham, left, is handed her award by Nicola White

Meanwhile, Erika, 19, was named young volunteer of the year. Once a member of the Great Britain U18 ski squad, Erika became involved in volunteering when she sustained a serious injury on the slopes.

She said: “I was sat at home frustrated at not being able to ski so I went along to Saddleworth Runners and shadowed their coaches and eventually got a qualification.

“That is how it started and I also volunteer at Saddleworth Swimming Club and with the Greenfield team at the Saddleworth Village Olympics.”

Erika, who is from Greenfield, coaches the village’s Olympic team for netball and athletics as well as refereeing in the football and dodgeball.

“It was nice to be nominated, but a surprise to win,” she explained.

A former pupil at St Mary’s, Greenfield and Saddleworth School, Erika no longer skis competitively and works as a teaching assistant and sports leader at St Patrick’s RC School, Rochdale.

When she is not volunteering, Erika plays netball and rounders in local leagues.

There was also a special recognition award for the Oldham parkruns at Alexandra Park, where there is also a junior run. There is also the Chadderton Hall parkrun.


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