"You make Mansfield feel proud"
Executive Mayor Tony Egginton told teenage swimming sensations Rebecca Adlington and Sam Hynd that "they made Mansfield feel extremely proud" after presenting them with the Freedom of the Mansfield District, the highest honour the Council can bestow on an individual or group.
Double Olympic Gold medalist Rebecca (19) and Paralympic Gold medalist Sam Hynd (17) became the first individuals to ever receive the freedom of the district at a ceremony on Friday.
Adlington took the Beijing Olympics by storm, first winning the women's 400m freestyle before clinching gold and a new world record in the 800m freestyle, becoming the most successful British swimmer in the past 100 years - this country's first Olympic swimming champion since 1988 and the first to win two Olympic golds since 1908.
Hynd won gold in the Paralympic S8 400m freestyle, breaking his own world record, as well as claiming bronze in the 200m individual medley.
Receiving her latest honour, Rebecca thanked a packed room of friends, family and guests: "Thank you to absolutely everybody, to Mansfield. It's such a great honour to get this - to the family, having to put up with me. It's been the best time of my life."
After the ceremony, Mayor Tony Egginton said: "We celebrate our Mansfield ambassadors, who have put our district on the map for all the right reasons. You make Mansfield feel great and you make Mansfield feel extremely proud."
During the event, Rebecca and Sam read jointly from a declaration, stating: "... we will be subject and obedient to all good order and customs of this District. We shall not consent or do anything whereby this District or the Freedom thereof may be endangered.
If we happen to know of any conspiracy or mischief against this District, we shall with all convenient speed disclose the same to the Executive Mayor or the Managing Director; and we do further declare that in all things we will conduct ourselves as true and loyal freemen ought to do."
As well as the Freedom awards, special Mayoral Commendations were presented to a number of other local sporting achievers:
- Ben and Tom Birchall, 2008 FIM World Side Car Championships, 3rd place
- Charlotte Henshaw (swimming), Team GB 2008 Paralympics
- Arnie Chan (table tennis), Team GB 2008 Paralympics
- Chris Martin (discus), Team GB 2008 Paralympics, Silver medallist
- Oliver Wilson (golf), member of the 2008 European Ryder Cup Team
- Bill Furniss (swimming coach), Notts County Council Swimming Development Officer and coach to Rebecca Adlington
- Glenn Smith (swimming coach), Mansfield District Council Swimming Development Officer and coach to Sam Hynd
The Cantamus Girls Choir is the only previous recipient of the Freedom of the Mansfield District. Cantamus received the accolade in 2006 after winning a Gold Medal at the 2006 Choir Olympics, also held in China.
The new Mercian Regiment received the Freedom of the Borough of Mansfield in March this year. This followed the award to their predecessors, the Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters (1970) and the Sherwood Foresters (1953).