Town rolls out red carpet for Olympic heroes
October 11, 2012
Volunteers received a heroes' welcome when they joined the town’s Olympic gold medallist Anna Watkins and Paralympian Simon Goodall at a civic reception.
More than 100 Games Makers, torch bearers and young ambassadors from the borough were honoured alongside the town’s sporting heroes for their successes and contributions during this summer’s Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Rower Anna, who lives in the town centre, and goalball player Simon, of Norreys Avenue, chatted to the volunteers and thanked them for their support during the Games, at the reception hosted by Wokingham Borough Council and Wokingham Town Council at the town hall last Wednesday.
Anna said: “My life is centred in this area and I want to say thank you for having me because it’s been a wonderful place to move to.
“It was nice to bring something back to Wokingham and enjoy it with everybody who lives here.”
Simon, who trained at Carnival Pool and gym in Wokingham, added: “The Games were the best couple of weeks of my life – this is bringing all the memories back.
“It’s still quite a raw emotion and I didn’t realise that until I was here listening to Anna talk, talking to all the Games Makers and feeling the love I felt at the Paralympics.
“It’s fantastic, I didn’t expect anything like this. I expected to come home and blend back into the community and get back on with my training but I’m touched by what has happened today.”
Borough mayor Bob Wyatt said: “I am delighted we are celebrating the achievements of our local Olympians, Paralympians and volunteers who helped to inspire the nation.
“The least we can do is show them how proud we are and how appreciative we are of what they have done for us.”
Frances Reeve, of Finchampstead, was at Eton Dorney for the Olympics and Paralympics, and on the day of Anna’s gold medal triumph she volunteered for an extra shift.
She said: “I was lucky enough to greet Anna and Katherine as they arrived.
“I watched them off the start and I started to run so I could get halfway up the course and be part of the Dorney roar and see them on the big screen as they crossed the line first.”
She added: “We’ve had a lot of appreciation from a lot of people but we had such a great time we are thankful for the opportunity to be part of the whole event.”
Young Ambassador Joe Steventon, 17, of Maiden Erlegh school said: “We’re on the frontline of inspiring a generation, helping out at sports events and the Olympic torch relay in Remenham.
“It’s been amazing to meet people and hear their stories of the Olympics.”
GB’s goalball team leader Dawn Newbury, of Finchampstead, who also carried the Paralympic flame, hopes the Games will inspire people to get involved in sport by becoming staff, volunteers, coaches, referees or umpires.
She said: “Sport’s not just about participating, there are so many different ways to get involved.”