HORWICH was the place to be for cycling fans this week with the town’s annual five-day Festival of Racing.

Now in its 18th year, the event boasted 23 cycling and running events attracting competitors of all ages from across the UK and even from overseas.

This year’s festival was particular poignant for Rob Ronson.

His late mother, Barbara, who died last year, was the driving force behind the festival.

Back in 2002 Mrs Ronson, who was not only the first female leader of Bolton Council, but the first Liberal Democrat mayor in 2007. asked Horwich Cycling Club to resurrect the cycling races which originated as part of Horwich Carnival in 1946.

In tribute, Sunday saw the first Barbara Ronson fancy dress fun run.

“It’s an incredible tribute to have a race dedicated to her,” said Mr Ronson.

“This has been a tough twelve months because I’ve also lost my father and brother, so this it is good to have something really positive like this. I’m very touched.”

Recognition also came for Neil Brown who has been festival chairman from the outset.

Planning for next year’s festival begins next week and it’s no wonder Mr Brown’s commitment has resulted in him being awarded a civic medal, which he will be presented later this month.

“I’m really thrilled. It’s a great honour he said.”

Speaking of the event, he said: “It gets bigger each year with different races added.

“Past competitors have gone on to win medals at the Olympic and Commonwealth Games.”

Bolton West MP Chris Green, who lives in the village, and Cllr Hilary Fairclough were there to cheer on the competitors.

“It’s such a great community event,” said Mr Green.

“On the one hand you have really serious athletes pushing themselves to the limit, and on the other hand it’s a great introduction for children to get involved, do a little bit of sport and get some exercise.”

The festival, which ran from Tuesday until Sunday, included the 7th British National Unicycle Road Race on Sunday.

Organiser, and competitor, Julian Page, 58, said the secret of the unusual sport is patience.

A total of 27 unicyclists took part in the seven-mile race, including Mr Page’s two daughters, Claire and Heather.