KEIGHLEY Cougars chairman Mick O'Neill is among those to be recognised in the New Year's Honours List.

He has been awarded the MBE for services to rugby league and the community – and to charity during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mr O'Neill chaired the Lawkholme club in the 1990s during the height of 'Cougarmania'.

He returned to Cougar Park about two years ago as part of a takeover following several months of turmoil, which had seen the club placed in special measures by the Rugby Football League.

The then MP, John Grogan, tabled a motion in Parliament praising the intervention of the new consortium – which also included another familiar face from Cougarmania days, Mike Smith.

This year, as a thank-you for the work put in by key workers during the pandemic, the club launched special-edition NHS shirts.

Through sales of the shirts, which proved massively popular with fans of all clubs across the world, Cougars raised a total of £6,892 – to be split between Airedale Hospital and Oxenhope Sue Ryder hospice Manorlands.

Mr O'Neill said he was "shocked but delighted" to receive the honour.

"When I got the letter I thought it was a hoax!" he added.

"It's great for the club.

"Everyone has been going through tough times this last year but we have big plans at the club, we've some great players and there's lots of reason to be positive.

"Hopefully we can provide a lift to the whole town." 

* Another award recipient is Neil Tillotson, a stalwart of Scouting in South Craven, who has received the BEM.

He has long been connected with the Farnhill and Kildwick Scout group.

His honour is for service to young people.