Huge crowds welcome local Olympic champion home

Over a thousand people turned out in Hemel Hempstead town centre last Wednesday at our special event for home-grown gymnast Max Whitlock.

Crowds filled the New Town Square to celebrate his achievements after bringing home a bronze and two gold medals from the Rio Olympics.

Max was welcomed on stage by local radio DJ Justin Dealey before he performed some of his award-winning floor routine on the Rainbow Stage. Max also spent plenty of time with his fans - signing hundreds of autographs and taking selfies, with the added bonus of being able to hold one of his gold medals.

Max presented awards to local children who had dusted off their paint brushes and sharpened their colouring pencils to enter our colouring and poster design competition, sponsored by Hemel Hempstead Business Ambassadors.

There were also competitions for budding athletes to take part in courtesy of Sportspace, demonstrations from local sports clubs including Rush Judo and Berkhamsted Gymnastics Club, as well as music and a live broadcast from BBC Three Counties.

Councillor Neil Harden, Portfolio Holder for Residents and Corporate Services, said, "This was a wonderful opportunity for us to celebrate one of our own. Max has done so much for the town, and to help towards putting Hemel on the map. We are all very proud of him.”

Councillor Andrew Williams, Leader of the Council, said, "This has been a terrific opportunity for Hemel to congratulate Max after a hugely successful performance in Rio this summer. We hope this event will inspire our next generation of athletes.”

Fans waiting for Max

Max and the Mayor presenting awards

MP Mike Penning with the crowd

Crowds in Hemel Town Centre

Max performing on stage

Max meeting his fans