BARRIE GRUNEWALD: Steve was a true hero

Steve Prescott
Steve Prescott

So many words have been used to describe Steve Prescott MBE since the sad announcement that he had lost his battle with cancer.

Words such as brave, courageous, hero, man of steel and so many more but the one word that stands out to me is inspirational, often overused but not in Steve’s case. Steve’s charity work and his sheer determination should be a beacon to all of St Helens residents and beyond.

He was a true hero in sport and in life, he was and will remain a St Helens legend whose enduring legacy will be the Steve Prescott Foundation and I am sure that this will continue and grow and we have a duty to ensure it does and I can commit the Council to doing all it can to help the organisation further Steve’s legacy.

Shaun Woodward announced last week that, after careful thought, he had decided not stand at the next General Election – which came as a shock to many in the room. Shaun may have come to St Helens in unusual circumstances but many in the local Labour Party have come to be his firm friends and are sad to see him announce he is stepping down.

I’ve seen at first hand Shaun’s determination and tenacity to get things done for St Helens and always press our case in London and beyond. When Shaun was first selected St Helens looked very different. Now we have new hospitals, new schools, new bus and train stations - the very fabric of St Helens has changed and Shaun has played a leading role in that.

No one should be in doubt about his passion and commitment for St Helens. The work he undertook to press the case for new hospitals was outstanding. Of course, it was not only his local work as an MP - he served both Prime Ministers in various roles but it will be his work in Northern Ireland that he may be best remembered.

As Shaun writes a new chapter in his own life, I wish him well. He has causes close to his heart he wishes to pursue and I have no doubt he will do so with that same determination and tenacity. I am fortunate and proud to have worked with Shaun. He is a friend and he will always be a friend to St Helens.

In due course the Labour Party will announce a procedure to select his successor. Whoever that may be will do well to remember Shaun’s achievements.

Like everyone in St Helens I was shocked to hear Pilkington’s announcement that the company was shedding 140 jobs at its Cowley Hill plant. It was a real hammer blow for the workforce and the town.

Job losses at any time can have a devastating impact on families but being so close to Christmas makes it heartbreakingly worse. My thoughts are very much with those affected by this announcement.

We will continue to work with - and support - Pilkington as they struggle with the impact of the economic recession. While the government talks about a recovery, this announcement shows just how fragile and limited that recovery is.

The council remains committed to supporting the growth of business in the town and we will do everything we can to help local people – including those affected by the Pilkington announcement - into work.

And if you like a party, don’t forget we’ve got one of the biggest and best taking place in St Helens town centre this Saturday!

You’ll have seen Kingsland Road leave the X Factor less than a fortnight ago but now we’ve all got the chance to see the real thing when they join the exciting line-up.

We’ve also got Britain’s Got Talent finalists Richard and Adam Johnson, Irish singer-songwriter Jordan O’Keefe, leading British beatbox band Duke. Thousands of fans are expected in Victoria Square. Don’t miss it!