Council honours Rio hero and helps young achievers in borough

Top potter Matt Wilcock and Ribble Valley Olympian Jon Schofield with recipients of Ribble Valley Borough Councils 2017 sports and arts excellence awards.
Top potter Matt Wilcock and Ribble Valley Olympian Jon Schofield with recipients of Ribble Valley Borough Councils 2017 sports and arts excellence awards.

Clitheroe kayak ace Jon Schofield, who surged his way to success at the Rio Olympics, was honoured at Ribble Valley Borough Council’s sports and arts excellence awards.

He was presented with a specially commissioned coffee set thrown by top potter Matt Wilcock by Ribble Valley Mayor Joyce Holgate.

He and Matt then presented grants to the borough’s up-and-coming young sportsmen and women and performance artists.

Budding barista Jon, who was supported by Ribble Valley Borough Council throughout his early career, secured second place in the kayak pairs 200m sprint at the Lagoa Stadium. Jon and kayak partner Liam Heath took silver after beating Lithuanian duo Aurimas Lankas and Edvinas Ramanauskas in a split-second photo-finish.

Robert Thompson, chairman of Ribble Valley Borough Council’s community services committee, said: “We are immensely proud to have supported Jon over the years and thrilled with his success. For him to have won bronze at London 2012 was fantastic enough, but to have topped that with a silver at Rio is outstanding.

“We are delighted that Jon and Matt have taken time out of their busy schedules to join us at this year’s sports and arts excellence awards ceremony.”

Jon told the youngsters that 15 years ago he was also in the council chamber nervously waiting to receive his award.

“Who knew that I would end up with an Olympic silver medal – and you can, too, if you work hard and aim high.

“I am delighted to be here this evening to present these awards and would like to thank Ribble Valley Borough Council for its support over the years, and the fantastic coffee set.”

Jon then posed for photographs with the enthralled youngsters, some of who tried on his silver medal.

Clay ace Matt, who won last year’s surprise TV hit the Great Pottery Throw Down, marries technical ability with astonishing artistry and recently exhibited at the Platform Gallery in Clitheroe.

The set comprises four mugs and a cafetiere featuring the Olympic rings on a circular tray. The set was thrown from stone wear clay on a traditional potters’ wheel and glazed with Leach celadon, named after its inventor, renowned British potter Michael Leach, comprising Cornish stone, China clay, whiting, flint and a touch of iron, and is a distinctive jade green colour.

Twenty-four youngsters received awards of up to £350 for a range of sports and arts, including cycling, fishing, climbing, netball, dance, drama and music.