ONE of the founding members of the Horwich Heritage Society has been presented with a prestigious award.

Stuart Whittle set up the society with his friend Geoff Waine 30 years ago, with the aim of preserving and enhancing the appreciation of Horwich’s rich and varied history.

The group, which formed as a response to the closure of the Horwich Locomotive works, has since moved into its own premises in the Horwich Resource centre in Beaumont Road.

Mr Whittle, aged 67, was given Horwich Rotary club’s Paul Harris award for service over self, a significant prize within the Rotarian community, named after the man who founded Rotary International in Chicago in 1905.

He said he was “very surprised but very honoured” to be one of only three non-rotarians to receive such an award in the Horwich Rotary club’s history.

Mr Whittle said: “My friend, Ted Wisedale, the president of Horwich Rotary invited me to a meeting of the group but I had no idea I was being given an award.

“You could have knocked me over with a feather when they announced it. As a non-Rotarian I was very honoured to receive this.

"We are in our 30th year of the Horwich Heritage Society and I have to accept the award on behalf of the whole society.”

He has written a number of publications about Horwich and co-produced a number of videos which are available from the Heritage Centre.

Mr Wisedale said: “The Rotary Club of Horwich has made only two previous awards to non-Rotarians during its 70 year history so this award is clearly to someone very special indeed.”