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Heroine’s welcome for cycling star Lizzie
9:09am Thursday 9th August 2012 in Local news
A heroine’s welcome will be given to Olympic silver medallist Lizzie Armitstead when she returns to Otley next week.
The 23-year-old cyclist will lead a parade through town, where she will be showing off her medal – the first won by Team GB at London 2012 – from an open-top bus on Wednesday evening.
Lizzie will be followed by a cavalcade made up of local cyclists, who are being encouraged to join her as the victory bus makes its way from Farnley Lane, over Otley Bridge and up to the town centre.
A civic presentation will then be held in her honour in the Market Square, where the public will get a chance to collect her autograph and take photos with the sporting star.
Family entertain-ment will also be laid on for the celebrations, which are expected to last several hours.
Lizzie’s proud parents, Carol and John Armitstead, said it would be a chance to show their gratitude for all the support and encouragement local people, schools and groups have shown their daughter during her cycling career, and especially during the 2012 Olympic Games.
Carol said: “We were absolutely thrilled with the result, and it has been quite overwhelming to receive good wishes and congratulations from so many local people.
“Lizzie has lived in Otley from being 18 months old. The commu-nity here has provided a great environment that enabled a young athlete to flourish.
“As a family, we have enjoyed taking advantage of the time and enthusiasm that the people of Otley have given to support the wealth of community activities available to children in the town. Thank you to everyone*.
"We invite everyone to the welcome home party next Wednesday evening."
Otley town mayor Councillor Mary Vickers is urging as many people as possible to turn out.
She said: “We are delighted to be welcoming Lizzie back to her home town next week, and to celebrate her fantastic achievement.
"It is the wishes of Lizzie that this event will encourage more young people to get involved in cycling and sport in general.
"Therefore, the planned event has been organised in conjunction with Lizzie and her family and we hope that the people of Otley will turn out and show their appreciation of her.”
Town Council leader Councillor John Eveleigh said: "First and foremost we wanted to have a celebration homecoming that Lizzie was comfortable with, and we've spent some time with members of the family to try and ensure we get it right.
"We know Lizzie is in Otley for only a short time before she leaves for more training, so we have fitted in with this tight schedule.
"We're arranging an open top bus parade with as many people as possible following on cycles, with a tour around the town centre and a bit of a parade in Market Place, where Lizzie has agreed to sign autographs.
"It will be a great event and, although it's in the middle of the school holidays, we are sure many, many people will want to be in the town next Wednesday to see both Lizzie and the first British medal of the 2012 games."
Posters publicising the homecoming celebrations, which will start at 6.30pm and last for two hours, are now going up around the town encouraging cyclists - who must wear helmets - to take part.
Runners are also being invited to run in Wharfemeadows Park, alongside the cavalcade, while householders are being encouraged to line the streets and cheer Lizzie on all along the route, which takes in Farnley Lane, Bridge Street, Clapgate, Kirkgate, Bondgate, Crossgate and Boroughgate.
*John and Carol paid special thanks to: The Whartons Primary School, Otley Swimming Club, Otley AC, Prince Henry’s Grammar School The Play Scheme, Otley Rugby Club Zebras, Otley leaders of Skyrac AC, Otliensians Hockey club, Otley Sports Council, Otley Adult Education Crèche, Otley Rythmic Gymnasts, The Bridge Church, Rainbows, Brownies, Scouts, and the Methodist Playschool.