Heroes welcome for athletes

First published in News

GLOUCESTERSHIRE has paid tribute to its home-grown Olympian and Paralympian heroes of London 2012 and the future.

The county council hosted a gala reception and lunch on Thursday for the athletes at the Star Bistro, at the National Star College in Ullenwood, near Tewkesbury.

Those attending included rower Alex Gregory , rower Beth Rodford, wheelchair racer Mel Nicholls and cyclist James Brown, hockey player Ashleigh Ball and rower Beth Rodford.

Alex, who trained at Evesham rowing club and won gold, said: “We’ve got such grassroots support. My best moments have been going into the local schools and interacting with the children.”

Paralympian Mel Nicholls, from Tewkesbury and who works at Winchcombe Abbey School, took part in the wheelchair sprint. She has only been competing in the sport for 18 months.

“I’m proud to call Gloucestershire to call Gloucestershire my home,” she said. “Now you can see what is possible.”

Partially-sighted cyclist James Brown, from Stonehouse, won a bronze for Northern Ireland. "it was a lovely reception and it's nice to be back in Gloucestershire and back at the Star Bistro.

"I've been back to Northern Ireland for a week and it was manic. When I got back to Stonehouse only our butcher and a couple of other people knew where I had been so it's been welcome quiet after everything."

Also among the special guests were Nicola Miles-Wildin, a disabled actress from Cheltenham, who took part in the opening ceremony, and Rio Paralympian hopeful archer Chloe Ball-Hopkins, from Wotton under Edge.

Councillor Tony Hicks, Chairman of Gloucestershire County Council, said: “The county council is incredibly proud of those people connected with Gloucestershire that took part in the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics.

“Their hard work, commitment and world-class performances are an inspiration to young and old, encouraging us all to lead healthier and more active lives.”

Guests enjoyed a three-course lunch prepared by the Star Bistro team which includes students from the National Star College.

David Ellis, chief executive of the National Star Foundation, said it was an honour to welcome the Olympians and Paralympians.

"All the Olympians and Paralympians here have shown how, through hard work and support, they have fulfilled their potential - which is exactly the same message that we give to the students here at the National Star College,” he said.

“Each individual student at the National Star College has a unique potential and we work hard to support them in fulfilling that potential so that they can then go on and achieve their aspirations."

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