THE internationally renowned Horwich Festival of Racing is back on the road next week for the 18th year in a row and the full programme of exciting events has been revealed.

For six days, Horwich will be a hive of cycling and running activities, featuring annual highlights including the prestigious Emerson Grand Prix next Saturday evening, as well as the National Unicycling Championship and British Masters Athletics Federation running and walking championships.

Events this year will be particularly poignant for many of the organisers, as it is the first festival since the founding president Barbara Ronson died in October last year.

Back in the 1970s, Horwich Cycling Club organised races as part of the annual Horwich Carnival, but they were unfortunately called off just over a decade later, after a few near misses with traffic. When Commonwealth Games fever gripped the region in 2002, Mrs Ronson, a local councillor at the time, asked Horwich Cycling Club to resurrect the carnival races as a day of multi-sport races.

This year's fancy dress fun run will be held in her memory, celebrating her commitment to the festival.

Neil Brown, chairman of the festival organising group, said: “In order to celebrate Mrs Ronson’s years of service to the festival, this year we have The Barbara Ronson Run – a one lap one mile fun run."

Mrs Ronson's son, Rob, said: “Horwich Festival of Racing was extremely important to my mum. It was an event into which she poured an enormous amount of energy and commitment.

"I am filled with gratitude and pride that the festival committee have chosen to pay tribute to my mum and to her contribution to the festival in the form of dedicating an event to her.

"Mum was a great believer in supporting enthusiasm and creative endeavour in all people, from an early age, myself included.

"I am deeply moved and honoured that I have been invited to represent her at The Festival to help in the judging of the fancy dress and to start the Barbara Ronson Run.”

New for 2019 is the junior three race tour of fell, trail and road races, for under 16s, and the junior duathlon, for under 15s, next Saturday in Old Station Park.

The festival is delivered by the community, with the support of Horwich town council, Bolton Council and local businesses.

Deputy Leader of Bolton Council, Cllr Martyn Cox added: “Bolton Council is proud to support this important event.

"Investing in sports at a grassroots level is key to encouraging all ages to get involved and develop lifelong habits to improve fitness and overall health.

"It is a prestigious event and we are incredibly proud to work with the organisers of the Festival."

Mr Brown said: "There is a packed programme to take part in and watch in your neighbourhood so make sure that you check out the programme on the website.”

The festival, lasting from Tuesday to Sunday will be broadcast live from the start and finish line at the Public Hall by Bolton FM. Take a look at the events and enter on the festival website,