Local athletes attend Mayor's reception

The Mayor, Chief Executive Sally Marshall, Jess Stretton and Max WhitlockLocal gold-winning Olympic and Paralympic medallists Max Whitlock and Jessica Stretton have attended a special reception hosted by the Mayor.

At a special meeting of the Council, Max was awarded the Freedom of the Borough of Dacorum to mark his multi-Olympic, World, Commonwealth and European medal-winning success as a gymnast and in recognition of the inspiration he has provided to thousands of young people in the borough.

Councillor Neil Harden, Portfolio Holder for residents and Corporate Services, said, “On behalf of Dacorum Borough Council I would like to pass on our heartfelt congratulations to Max for his extraordinary success in Rio and for the hard work and dedication in becoming the most decorated Olympic gymnast in British history.

"Max is truly an inspiration to all and a great role model to youngsters showing that with hard work and dedication you can achieve your goals. Well done to Max and all those that supported him in his early career and on the path to Olympic glory.”

After receiving the Freedom of the Borough, Max said, “I feel very fortunate and honoured to be standing here being given this award, so thank you very much.

"Obviously I am a Hemel boy and I always will be. I am very proud of where I’m from and the support that I’ve grown up around has just been incredible.”

Hemel Hempstead’s Jessica Stretton, who won the W1 archery gold medal in Rio, also attended the event. At just 16 years old, this was her first time competing at the Paralympics, so to come away with the gold was an absolutely fantastic achievement.

At the reception Jess was congratulated on her performance this summer and there are high hopes that her success will be repeated in Tokyo 2020 and beyond. MP Mike Penning presented Jess with a photograph of her meeting Theresa May, which had been signed by the Prime Minister.

Mayor of Dacorum, Councillor Robert McLean, who previously met Jess when she picked up the Dacorum Sports Rising Star Award, said, “We are so proud of everything that Jessica has achieved. She has proved that in the face of adversity, if you work hard enough and believe in yourself you can achieve anything.”

Max Whitlock being awarded Freedom of the Borough

Max signing the register of Freemen

Jess supporting Vote Hemel

MP Mike Penning presenting Jess with signed photograph