Leeds Rugby Foundation honoured rugby league played throughout Leeds with a Celebration Dinner held at Headingley Carnegie Stadium on Saturday 28 July. Over 280 players, supporters, volunteers enjoyed the evening’s entertainment with many awards handed out to worthy winners.
All strands of the sport we’re represented from children starting off playing the game at primary schools and community clubs through to Leeds Rhinos first team players. It was an opportunity to acknowledge the important and hard work done at grassroots level throughout Leeds and without the commitment of these inspirational people the game of rugby league would be where it is today.
The John Holmes Award, sponsored by Berry’s, recognises an individual who has gone over and above the call of duty to make an exceptional contribution to their organisation. The worthy winner was Dougie Smithson from Queens ARLFC – Dougie was a former classmate of John Holmes and played with him at Kirkstall boys. Dougie works very hard for Queens and has been a credit to the club, Leeds & District and rugby league in Leeds at both playing and at his official posts.
Life time achievement was awarded to Stephen “Rocky” Whitehead from Oulton, it was commented that Rocky has an open, inclusive approach to coaching, recruiting and inspiring children and adults of all abilities. Rocky spends the vast majority of his spare time inspiring children to take up the sport, remain fit, socialise and develop their confidence.
The evening also included a talk by Gary Hetherington, chief executive of Leeds Rugby, followed by him interviewing Brian McDermott, head coach at Leeds Rhinos and first team players of Leeds Rhinos – Danny McGuire, Jamie Jones Buchanan and Chris Clarkson.
Leeds Rugby Foundation, chief executive, Lucy Young commented on the night, “ We are delighted to support all areas of rugby league development in the City and the generous contributions raised tonight will help us continue our important work in the Leeds and Yorkshire.”