A former world champion graced the baize at North Notts Arena last Friday, much to the delight of some snooker mad local kids.
Stephen Hendry, a legend of the sport, was the guest of honour at North Notts Arena Snooker Academy’s presentation evening.
And according to Academy coach Steve Mallender, the former world number one could not do enough to make it a special evening for the youngsters.
Mallender told the Guardian: “It went brilliantly, it was one of the best nights we’ve had down there.”
“Stephen was fantastic, he would have done anything for us.”
Hendry played eight frames of snooker against the Academy kids, including the youngest player – five-year-old Tyler Hewitt.
Three lucky audience members also won the chance to play against the Scotsman through an auction.
Hendry was only too happy to pose for photographs and sign autographs for the 100-plus spectators.
Mallender said: “He answered questions for a good 15 minutes from the audience.”
“The kids loved it, they’ve done nothing but talk about him and the evening since.”
All the kids who have done a year at the Academy picked up trophies, and there were special awards for three players.
“My Coach’s Player of the Year awards went to two brothers, Harrison and Warren Lowell.”
“Their commitment and etiquette is great to see, they turn up and work hard, they don’t moan when they lose and they don’t boast when they win.”
“They’re a pleasure to teach.”
Fellow coach Darren Presgrave gave his award to 18-year-old Macauley Croft.
Mallender added: “He’s been an inspiration and a great example to the kids down there.”
The Academy is booming at present, with an average attendance of around 35 each week.
“There’s some great talent coming through, it’s great to see for the local area.”
“We have to thank the Arena for their help with all of it, and Dave and Chris Bloomer of St Ann’s Sheet Metal Company for sponsoring the presentation evening.”