Sporting event could be renamed in memory of Willie Innes

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An annual youth tournament is set to be renamed in memory of Willie Innes, former leader of East Lothian Council, who died after a long battle with cancer last year.

East Lothian Youth Games would be permanently renamed Willie Innes Youth Games under proposals due to be presented to East Lothian Councilors next week.

The trophy that secondary schools play the games for will also be renamed the Willie Innes Trophy.

Council leader Norman Hampshire, who took over the role after Mr Innes passed away last October, said it was a ‘fitting tribute’ to his longtime colleague who had been a driving force sports development in the county.

Councilor Willie Innes died last year

He said: “Councillor Innes believed that sport should be accessible to everyone, no matter what level you can reach.

“He wanted every child to have the opportunity to participate because he believed it would help improve their fitness, health and social skills.

“He was passionate about supporting our young talents to reach their highest level, but wanted everyone to enjoy playing sports.

“The Willie Innes Youth Games is a great tribute to a councilor whose leadership and passion for sport provided the communities of East Lothian with the best sporting facilities in Scotland.

“It is his vision that has been the main driver behind the success of East Lothian’s sports development strategy.

“I am confident that Willie’s commitment and support for the sport will benefit communities in East Lothian for generations to come.”

A report to the full council on Tuesday outlines Mr Innes’ role in making the local authority the first in Scotland to develop a sports strategy.

East Lothian Courier: Pupils from North Berwick High School celebrate winning the 2012 East Lothian Youth Trophy with Glasgow Commonwealth mascot Clyde.Pupils from North Berwick High School celebrate winning the 2012 East Lothian Youth Trophy with Glasgow Commonwealth mascot Clyde.

He says: ‘In preparation for the formation of the new East Lothian Council in 1996, and during the dark year of 1995, then East Lothian District Councilor Willie Innes and key colleagues put the wheels in motion to be the first council in Scotland of the 32 new unitary authorities to put in place a sport development strategy.

“The strategy was considered and commented upon by the Scottish Office at the time as a ‘highly visionary document’.

“The foundations of Willie’s vision and commitment a generation ago have, and continue to make, a difference today.

“A key part of the strategy was education, training and sport for young people, and it is with this and these themes in mind that we propose to recognize and honor the legacy of Willie Innes. ”

READ MORE: Tributes paid after the death of East Lothian Council leader Willie Innes

The East Lothian Youth Games started in 2003 and are held at Meadowmill, by Tranent.

The S1 and S2 age groups from the county’s six secondary schools participate in a range of sports including football, golf, badminton, hockey, rugby 7s and basketball.

Mr Innes, from Prestonpans, was one of the local authority’s longest-serving councilors, representing his home ward since 1988.

The 70-year-old father-of-three represented the Preston Seton Gosford ward where he lived.

He was appointed leader of the Labor group in 2007, becoming leader of the council in 2012.

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