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Olympic sailing hero Sir Ben Ainslie given freedom of Lymington
8:35am Friday 25th October 2013 in News
SIR Ben Ainslie was made an honorary freeman of his New Forest home town last night.
The 36-year-old sailor has won five Olympic medals and was the first Briton to triumph in the America’s Cup for more than 100 years.
He is the first person to be made honorary freeman of Lymington for at least 33 years.
Scores of friends, relatives and supporters watched him receive a sealed and illuminated certificate from the mayor, Cllr Anna Rostand, in a ceremony at the Fuller & McClellan Hall in Cannon Street.
Cllr Rostand listed some of his many achievements, including his first Olympic medal at the age of 19.
She told him: “Little did we know what a superstar you were going to become. Your contribution to sailing is second to none.
“For young people you are an inspiration. It gives us great pleasure to acknowledge all your amazing triumphs.”
After signing the register of honorary freeman, Sir Ben recalled the day that he and his parents moved to Lymington from Cornwall in 1996.
He added: “I do a lot of travelling, which is an honour and a privilege, but it’s great to be able to come back and call a place like Lymington home.”
Cllr Rostand joked: “I’m sorry I can’t offer you a free parking space or a free mooring, but perhaps one of our distinguished guests can.”
Those attending the ceremony included Sir Ben’s parents, Roderick and Susan Ainslie, and his sister, Fleur Pels.
Also there was Lymington businessman Rob Smith, who famously painted a Lymington post box gold in recognition of Sir Ben’s triumph in the 2012 Olympics.
Mr Smith was arrested on suspicion of criminal damage but the Royal Mail made the honour official and no further action was taken against him.
One notable name missing from last night’s guest list was Sir Ben’s girlfriend, Sky Sports presenter Georgie Thompson, who was said to be in New York.
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