St Helens Borough Council held a special ceremony on Thursday, 30th November 2023 as James Roby was one of the recipients of the highest award a council can bestow.
St.Helens R.F.C.’s ‘Greatest Of All Time’ brought the curtain down on an incredible 20-year rugby league playing career in October, with his place firmly cemented not only as one of the best ever to play the sport but one of our town’s greatest ambassadors.
Born and bred in the town of St Helens, Roby is a former Cowley International High School student who has gone on to become the Saints’ all-time appearance maker playing 551 times for the Red V. Over 20 seasons the legendary player won; 6 Super League titles, 4 Challenge Cups, 8 League Leaders’ Shields, 2 World Club Challenges and 1 Man of Steel Award.
As captain of the Saints, James Roby led the team to an unprecedented four Super League championships in a row from 2019 to 2022. In 2023 he skippered the side to even more history with the first summer era victory over an Australian side in the World Club Challenge against NRL Champions Penrith Panthers for the Club’s third world title.
Back in March it was announced that St Helens Borough Council had nominated the former Saints’ hooker for the accolade for his services to the borough, alongside; reigning darts world champion, Michael Smith; MP for St Helens South and Whiston, Marie Rimmer CBE; and the Duke of Lancaster regiment.
After presenting the four recipients with their Freedom of the Borough scrolls, St Helens Borough Council Leader David Baines said: “I am honoured to present these four outstanding recipients with the highest honour a council and borough can give.
“Their efforts in service to our communities are each remarkable in their own ways and on behalf of the council and the people of St Helens Borough, I thank them and congratulate them on a well-deserved recognition.”
Mayor of St Helens Borough, Councillor Lynn Clarke said: “It’s been a tremendous evening. I’m really proud to have been involved in presenting the Freedom of the Borough scrolls to our very worthy recipients.
“Everything they have achieved has been recognised by the council and we are really pleased that they have accepted their honours on what was a historic occasion.”
Speaking after receiving the Freedom of the Borough, a proud James Roby said: “Thank you to the council and everyone associated with granting me with this award. I understand how privileged I am to be in this position and what an honourable select group of people have been up for this award in the past. It’s a huge honour for myself and my family. You don’t achieve anything in life without the support of others and I’d like to thank my family and most notably my wife Natasha, she’s been by my side for many years and the majority of my career at St Helens, and I’d like to think that’s probably why I’m standing in this position today.
“Everybody at St Helens (rugby league club) has shown me nothing but support and encouraged me and given me a platform to grow as a person and develop and luckily I’ve been successful in my rugby league career and generally thank you to the good people of St Helens as well. It’s been a great journey, a great 20 years at St Helens and I’m very proud to receive this award in the great company of the other people who have received this honour.”