Town honours its Olympic ace Anna
OLYMPIC rowing star Anna Bebington came home to a hero's welcome and was besieged by sporting hopefuls.
The former student at Westwood College in Leek won bronze in the women's double scull at the Beijing games.
MEDAL MAGIC: Anna Bebington with her cut-glass bowl and children from Leek First School and Churnet View School. Above, Anna in action in Beijing. Picture: Jon Bartholomew
A civic reception for Anna was staged by Staffordshire Moorlands District Council. Yesterday's celebration was attended by rising sports stars from across the district.
Among those who chatted to the rower were Biddulph swimmer Eleanor Jones, Cheadle squash prodigy Roxanna Keshavarz and Leek Swimming Club member Dan Vickers, who has just claimed a silver medal in the Junior Commonwealth Games in South Africa.
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They were accompanied by students from Leek High School, Churnet View Middle School, St Edward's Junior High School, Beresford Memorial First School, and Leek First School, plus two young sports ambassadors from every high school across the district.
The 25-year-old Olympian was presented with a special cut-glass rose bowl from council chairman Tony McNicol. She is already hard in training for the London Olympics. She said: "I feel very honoured. Most Olympians come from bigger towns and cities and do not get such a welcome from a community such as this.
"It is also great to be able to say thank you to the people who have helped me in one way or another.
"Since I have been back I have been into a couple of schools in Leek, and it is great to see so many children here today.
"London is a long way off, but I have already started training on the lake where the Olympics will be. It is quite inspiring."
Other special guests included her parents and 79-year-old grandmother Phyllis Jell, who said it was one of the proudest days of her life.
Mrs Jell, of Southlands Close, Leek, said: "I watched every bit of Anna on the Olympics and when everyone was cheering, I was crying.
"My late husband Thomas always predicted great things for Anna from a very early age. He would have been very proud to be here today.
"She will be 29 when the London Olympics take place and they say that is the best age for a rower. I am thrilled to bits for her."
Anna's mother Caroline, a teacher at Westwood College, added: "I am delighted that Anna has been honoured locally in a place where she grew up."
Councillor Mark Deaville, portfolio holder for leisure, sport and culture: "She is a great example to young people of the rewards that dedication can bring."