Tributes paid to local sporting figure Stephen

STEPHEN Ward, a well-known local sporting figure, has died aged 84.

Though Stephen latterly lived in Wales, his roots were in Saddleworth as he was born in Delph and attended Diggle Primary before winning a scholarship to Hulme Grammar.Stephen served in the army and police force before moving into business management.

As an accomplished sportsman, he also represented his school, the Lancashire Fusiliers and the local police force in athletics competitions winning trophies for cross country running.

Stephen played football and cricket for various local teams, moved into umpiring in the Saddleworth Cricket League and refereeing in the Oldham Sunday League.

In later years, he moved more into the administration and management side of sports. He became chairman of the Oldham Sunday League and a board member of the Lancashire Football League.

A keen fisherman, Stephen was a founder member of the Diggle Angling Club.

Following a career move to North Wales, Stephen became heavily involved in Welsh cricket and was a former chairman of the North Wales Cricket League.

Mike Short, chairman of the NWCL, said: “Stephen was a highly regarded member of the North Wales Cricket League.

He served on the league committee between 2000 and 2011 and was chairman between 2005 and 2007.

“Despite his broad Yorkshire accent, he was very warmly welcomed into the North Wales cricketing family.

“Stephen was very active in his role as chairman and was very popular with clubs as well as with his fellow committee members.

“Most weekends he travelled across the length and breadth of North Wales so that he could visit as many of the league’s 39 clubs as possible.

“Stephen’s trips to the various grounds was very much appreciated by clubs who felt honoured to be visited by the league chairman, but that was the type of person that Stephen was, always happy to talk to anyone and everyone.”

For his services to sport, Stephen was awarded a Sports Council Achievement Award.

In retirement, he continued with his hobbies of fishing, stamp collecting and model railway.

Stephen, who died at Wrexham Maelor Hospital on March 8, leaves wife Christine, daughters Hazel, Lesley, Heather and Claire, and grandchildren.

Due to current restrictions, Stephen’s funeral had very few attendees. There is a memorial page where people can leave memories, photographs or thoughts:

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