Five schools sealed their places in our North West 10-Pin Bowling Finals after some stellar performances at our Greater Manchester showpiece on Wednesday (December 14). 

Seventeen secondary schools, who had all qualified from their individual borough competitions held throughout the autumn term, lined up at Bolton Hollywood Bowl knowing success would see them take the next step on our competitive pathway and reach February’s regional final. 

St Cuthbert’s from Rochdale, St. John Fisher from Wigan and Hyde High School from Tameside finished in the top three to seal their places in our North West final for mainstream schools, while Samuel Laycock from Tameside and Spring Brook Upper School from Oldham booked their slots in our special schools regional final. 

“I feel really happy I managed to get so many points to help my team. We all scored quite a lot – but obviously I got the most!” said St Cuthbert’s pupil Harry Kelly, 15, proudly clutching his 100 Club certificate as well as the winner’s trophy. 

PE teacher Jack Spencer from Hyde High School said: “On a day like today, they are given an opportunity they wouldn’t normally get in a setting they don’t usually get to experience. It really does build their confidence. 

“In the qualifier in Tameside, it was the first time three of our students had ever been bowling. The praise they get in assembly when they go back to school is something they really cherish. 

“They are all asking when they can come back again. It’s good to instil that competitive streak in them. They enjoy the fact they can beat other schools and get to the next level.” 

India Tickle, 12, from Shevington High School in Wigan said: “I’m having all the fun right now! Last time when I won a medal, I was so proud and excited. It just made me want to do more bowling!” 

India’s PE teacher Rachel Duggan said: “These students might not be involved in mainstream competitions so to have a space where they can succeed is so rewarding for them. They have never experienced this level of competition before. But even if they don’t win, they talk about this for weeks and weeks. 

“It’s rewarding socially and in terms of their relationships too. These children may not have spoken to one another in school, but they are high-fiving each other here today.” 

Panathlon was delighted once again to welcome a team from Derian House, a hospice for young people with life-limiting conditions in Bolton. They have engaged with Panathlon activity in recent years through our partnership with Bolton Wanderers in the Community. They took part in Virtual Panathlon activities during the Covid-19 lockdowns and have entered boccia, new-age kurling and 10-pin bowling competitions. 

“When they’re at school, a lot of these young people don’t take part in PE, so we’re delighted to get them involved in competitive activity like this,” said Katie McNally, Derian House’s Wellbeing and Play Lead. “Our young people absolutely love it and they get quite competitive.” 

On the next door lane were St Joseph’s School from Bolton. You couldn’t wipe the smile off 12-year-old Jacob Hill’s face (above) after he landed an early strike. 

“That was definitely my favourite bit!” he said afterwards. “It’s really important to me because I get to represent the school that I go to.” 

His teaching assistant Sam Woods added: “You can see how it brings them together as a group, cheering each other on. They wear their medals at school all day. It’s a big thing for them. It’s so inclusive and they feel so proud.” 

Later in the day, seven primary schools from across Bolton and Bury came to Bolton Wanderers’ football stadium for a Harry Potter-themed party to celebrate their achievements in Panathlon over the autumn term.