Four-time Winter Paralympic Games medallist Jade Etherington has been granted the freedom of Bourne at a packed civic reception on Monday (31 March).
Jade, 23, was granted the honour at the end of her homecoming tour. The former Baston Primary and Deepings School pupil won three silver medals and one bronze at the games in Sochi.
Mayor of Bourne David Higgs welcomed Jade to Bourne Corn Exchange before introducing her to a cheering crowd. Jade met the public and answered questions before going inside for the ceremony.
There was a touching moment when Jade met Steven Withycombe, who is completely blind, and showed him the braille on her medals. Steven was one of several deafblind people brought to the reception by staff from the Bourne Resource Centre, which is run by Sense.
Angie Free, who works at the centre, said: “We have people with partial sight, deaf people and blind people. For them to meet someone as special as Jade was very important, to know there was someone like her doing so well.
“It is inspiring people with any difficulties. It shows no matter what the problem is we have to overcome it.”
Jade also met two teachers from Baston Primary School, Jill Clayton and Karen Day, who taught there while she was a pupil.
Earlier in the day she visited her two old schools along with Bourne Grammar, Bourne Academy, Bourne Westfield and Bourne Abbey. She also spent time at Sainsbury’s in Exeter Street. Jade was driven around in a vintage car with her grandparents.
Speaking to staff and customers at Sainsbury’s she said: “Going back to Baston was lovely. That’s where it all started.
“There is a teacher there who I know and it was really good to see everyone.
“The kids all knew about me and were asking loads of really good questions. It was really enjoyable.”
Alexandra Parker, 10, from Corby Glen, was delighted to meet Jade after watching her Sochi success on television. She said: “She’s very brave. It was a really cool surprise to meet her. The medals were very heavy.”
Ruth Maltby, 74, of Deeping Road, Baston, made a special trip to meet Jade. She used to work at the old Baston Primary School for 19 years as a dinner lady.
Ruth said: “Jade has done so well and I thought I must go and see her. It’s really good for Bourne and the area.”