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Edinburgh Live
Edinburgh Live
Marie Sharp

East Lothian school sports tournament set to be renamed in tribute to Willie Innes

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

The East Lothian Youth Games will be permanently renamed the Willie Innes Youth Games under proposals set to go before East Lothian Councillors next week. The trophy which secondary schools play for at the games will also be renamed the Willie Innes Trophy.

Council leader Norman Hampshire, who took over the role following the death of Councillor Innes last October, said it was a 'fitting tribute' to his long-standing colleague who had been a driving force in sports development in the county.

READ MORE: East Lothian councillors pay tribute to late leader Willie Innes as a 'giant' and a gentleman

He said: "Councillor Innes believed that sport should be available for everyone at whatever level you can achieve. He wanted every child to have an opportunity to participate as he thought this would help improve their fitness, health and social skills.

"He was passionate about supporting our talented young people achieving their highest level but wanted everyone to enjoy playing sport.

"The Willie Innes Youth Games is a great tribute to a councillor whose leadership and passion for sport has provided East Lothian’s communities with the best sporting facilities in Scotland. It was his vision that was the main driver for East Lothian’s successful sports development strategy.

"I am confident that Willie’s commitment and support for sport will benefit communities across East Lothian for many generations."

A report to full council next week outlines Mr Innes' role in making the local authority the first in Scotland to develop a sports strategy.

It says: "In preparation for the formation of the new East Lothian Council in 1996 and during the shadow year of 1995, Willie Innes, a then East Lothian District Councillor, along with key colleagues, put the wheels in motion to be the first council in Scotland of the new 32 unitary authorities to put a sports development strategy in place.

"The strategy was seen and commented on by the then Scottish Office as a “highly visionary document”. The foundations provided in Willie’s vision and commitment a generation ago have, and continue to make, a difference today.

"A key part of the strategy was on education, training and youth sport, and it is with this and these themes in mind that we propose to recognise and honour Willie Innes’s legacy."

The East Lothian Youth Games started in 2003 and are held at Meadowmill, Tranent. S1 and S2 year groups from all six county secondary schools take part 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 councillors, representing his home ward since 1988.

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

The report will be put to councillors at a virtual meeting on Tuesday, next week.

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