Rugby Legend Ben Westwood is made an Honorary Citizen of Warrington on Monday 24 February at Warrington Town Hall, in recognition of eminent service to the borough.
Ben Westwood was born in Normanton, West Yorkshire in July 1981. He began his career at local team Normanton Knights, before being scouted for Wakefield Trinity Wildcats in 1999.
Affectionately known as ‘Super Bennie’, he joined Warrington Wolves in 2002, making his debut in an away game to London Broncos in Carcassonne, France. He wore primrose and blue for 18 seasons, becoming the club’s longest serving player, before announcing his retirement in 2019.
He played for Warrington Wolves a total of 441 times, including five Challenge Cup finals and three Grand Finals. During his career with the Wire, he scored 128 tries and landed 83 goals. He played over 500 career games, and is one of just three players to have played in the Super League during the last millennium, and is the final Warrington Wolves player to retire who had played at the old Wilderspool Stadium.
In addition to his 18 seasons at Warrington Wolves, Ben has also represented England on 27 occasions, including the 2008 and 2013 Rugby League World Cup, and featured in all of England’s 2011 Four Nations matches.
He ended his career as a Challenge Cup Winner in 2019, having previously also won the title in 2009, 2010 and 2012. He marked this win at the Warrington Wolves homecoming parade, when he gave his Challenge Cup Winners’ medal to a six year old Warrington Wolves ‘super fan’.
Ben said: “This is a wonderful day for me, my wife and family. I never imagined all those years ago – when I was playing for Normanton Knights – that my career would take me to winning the Challenge Cup four times and representing my country on the world stage.
“I’ve had lots of encouragement along the way and have had fantastic support from my family, friends and the barmy army fans. I want to thank everyone who’s followed my journey over the years at Warrington Wolves and I’m really looking forward to the next chapter.
“Throughout my career I have received magnificent support from the people of Warrington, which I’m very grateful for. I am also looking forward to driving sheep through Time Square, although I’ll have them close their eyes when they pass the market, as I don’t want them to be scared.”
Despite Ben’s many sporting achievements, he has never forgotten his roots. Alongside his rugby career, he has also made a significant contribution to the local community. He has helped to promote health, sport and educational projects at a wide variety of events and venues across the borough. In 2009, he supported an ‘Eat Well, Be Well’ project, which highlighted the health implications of fast food. Continuing his work in promoting healthy eating, Ben took part in the Warrington Wolves ‘Wolf it Up’ project, taking time to visit local families and cook healthy meals with them.
As a Warrington Wolves player, Ben has supported the development of sport in Warrington, attending numerous local sporting events and festivals to hand out trophies and sign autographs. He also takes time to visit seriously ill supporters and their families who are often going through some of the most difficult times.
Ben is also a patron of the Shannon Bradshaw Trust, which raises money to help sick children and families throughout the North West.
Mayor of Warrington, Cllr Wendy Johnson, said: “Ben’s incredible sporting achievements in rugby have earnt him an army of fans. He is one of Warrington’s true sporting heroes and a fantastic ambassador for our borough.
“I’m absolutely delighted that we are set to bestow our highest civic honour on Ben. He really is a worthy recipient of this honour and I know how genuinely pleased and proud he is to be receiving the award. It will sit alongside his many medals and trophies for his achievements with Warrington Wolves. I would like to thank Ben, not only for his many achievements in rugby but also for his continued commitment to Warrington and contribution to our borough.”
Ben’s retirement from playing will take him into new roles with Warrington Wolves as he will be working with the backroom staff and in the office, as well as coaching the Warrington Wolves women’s team.
Ben has been married to his wife Debbie Westwood since 2014, and together they share daughters Tyler, Gracie, and step-son Jake.