Parades, freedom of borough and street naming for Olympic heroes

Published on Friday, 17 August 2012 14:12
Written by Scott Buckler

As Olympic stars return home with one of the country's biggest haul of Olympic medals, councils across the country are laying on celebrations, naming streets after their sporting heroes and bestowing the rare Freedom of the Borough honour

Although this would no longer grant the likes of Mo Farah the right to race sheep through his town centre, it is still one of the highest accolades to be granted to a local resident.

Dave Brailsford, the mastermind behind Team GB's cycling success, has already received the prestigious award from his hometown and Pendle Council is also set to honour Steven Burke shortly to mark his victory in the men's cycling at the Olympic Velodrome.

There are also talks for other top athletes such as Mo Farah, Jessica Ennis, Bradley Wiggins and 20-year-old Laura Trott to receive the award, which dates back to the Middle Ages.

Miles of bunting and banners were streamed throughout cities, towns and villages to celebrate Team GB's victories as they happened, and town halls, sports clubs and families have since been finalising celebratory events befitting of their sporting heroes.

Today will see Sheffield crowds dress in gold to celebrate Jessica Ennis' success as Olympic heptathlon champion. There will also be a celebration parade to honour Mary King, who won silver in the dressage. She will ride her horse, Imperial Cavalier, through the streets of Sidmouth, while family, friends and colleagues follow in an open-top bus.

Tomorrow, people in Peterborough are being encouraged to line the city's streets to welcome home medallist Louis Smith. The gymnast, who won team bronze and individual silver on the pommel horse, will be given an open-top bus tour by the mayor.

A special homecoming reception will also be held for bronze medal gymnast Kristian Thomas at Earls Gymnastics Club in Dudley, who will receive a heroes' welcome from fans.

The spirit of celebration is set to continue over the coming weeks as many more councils finalise their plans for parties to coincide with when their athletes return home after well-earned breaks. Broxbourne Council is even planning to name a street or a proposed new cycle bridge after Laura Trott.

Councillor Stephen Castle, Chairman of the Local Government Association's 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games Task and Finish Group, said:

"The London 2012 Olympic Games has been truly memorable as Team GB's amazing success positioned Britain third in the medals league table and helped us to achieve our best results in over a hundred years.

"What made these Games even more special was that Team GB shone the light not only on Britain but importantly on their home communities across the country.

"Councils have been immensely proud of the success, drive and dedication of their local Olympian stars and for putting their cities, towns and villages firmly on the map.

"We have already seen councils award Freedom of the Borough honours, hold open-top bus parades and civic ceremonies to welcome home their sporting heroes and to provide them with an opportunity to show off their medals to the crowds. With many more parties and celebrations yet to come, we expect this to be a summer for local communities to remember."

Source: ©LGA

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