DON Heaney wanted to give back some of what he had gained from rugby - and there is no doubt now that the debt has been repaid in full.

In fact, Don was made Maryport's first 'good citizen' in the inaugural awards given out by the Maryport town council last week in tribute to the work he has done.

Born and bred in Maryport, his home was one of those hit and destroyed by German bombers in the Second World War.

"I was only three so I don't remember much", he said. "But my brother could vividly remember having a blanket wrapped around him and being taken from the house."

Don's love of rugby was firmly rooted in 1951 when his father took him to see Workington Town versus Warrington.

"I loved every bit of it. This was in the days of my rugby hero Gus Riseman."

He went on to play as a fullback for Glasson Rangers. "I must have been okay at it because I was captain for three years."

His love of rugby went so deep that he was determined to share his passion with others.

When he stopped playing he turned to coaching, starting with a small team - both in age and numbers.

But the Mini Mods grew until this year when there are about 150 children all excited to play.

It is not just on the field that Don excels.

Times and Star: Don Heaney, Maryport's first community champion, received his trophy from Mayor Peter Kendall Don Heaney, Maryport's first community champion, received his trophy from Mayor Peter Kendall (Image: Submitted)

He has been youth secretary for longer than anyone can remember. He coaches and manages teams and arranges fixtures. In fact, he does anything that is needed both for the youth teams and around the clubhouse.

Maryport mayor Peter Kendall, in presenting Don with his Good Citizen award, also mentioned that he did pitch maintenance, no matter what the weather.

"Many young people are seen to have benefitted from Mr Heaney's efforts, both in developing their rugby talents and in learning essential life skills," Mr Kendall said.

"At over 80 years old, Heaney was seen as a worthy recipient of this first community champion award."

He was chosen by a panel that included the heads of Netherhall, Maryport Primary and Netherton Infant School and councillorrs Brandon Copeland, Gary Hampson and Christine Slater.