Golden girl gala for medal winner Ellie Simmonds
A second homecoming celebration for golden girl Ellie Simmonds saw more than 1,000 people line the streets of Aldridge – and a guest appearance by a Hollywood star.
The 17-year-old, who has revealed she is now back in training for the International Paralympic Committee World Swimming Championships in Canada next August, was carried in a horse and carriage as part of a parade along Aldridge High Street.
Crowds lined the pavements while more people queued to meet the double gold medal winning Paralympian during a signing session afterwards.
The Golden Girl Gala celebrations continued into the evening on Saturday with a black-tie event at Druids Heath Golf Club, hosted by TV and film star Warwick Davis.
The events were organised by shopkeepers on Aldridge High Street to honour Ellie's successes and to raise money for the Dwarf Sports Association.
Ellie, who was accompanied by Sutton Coldfield's Paralympic cyclist Jon-Allan Butterworth during the parade, said: "It's amazing. It's good so many people came. I'm a patron of the Dwarf Sports Association which is such an important thing to me. It is such a good cause and it's nice to celebrate the end of the Paralympics."
Speaking about her plans for the future, she said: "I've started training again. We have our world championships next year in Canada to focus on.
"I'm also doing lots of other sports like Zumba to get my fitness back."
Mother-of-one Christine Boot, 58, of Chatsworth Crescent, Rushall, was one of the first in the queue who waited patiently to meet Ellie and get a signed picture after the parade, which also featured young sports people from schools and societies. She said: "I was standing for three hours waiting to meet her. I'm not usually into sports but I thought I'd watch the Paralympics and support her. This picture is something I will treasure."
Book-keeper and mother-of-two Kate Barnes, 33, of Bluebell Road, Aldridge, added: "It's great to meet her. She's so inspirational."
Ellie was also called an "inspiration" by actor Warwick Davis, who hosted Saturday evening's black-tie event. It was attended by about 100 people and included a charity auction to raise further funds for the Dwarf Sports Association.
The star of Harry Potter, Star Wars and Ricky Gervais's Life's Too Short sitcom said: "I've known of the Dwarf Sports Association for many years. I'm well aware of the amazing work they do. It's nice to celebrate Ellie's amazing achievement."
The 42-year-old, who has been busy filming the third series of comedy travel show An Idiot Abroad and is in pantomime at Wimbledon later this year, added: "You don't realise the dedication athletes put in.
"She trains so many hours a week. She's an inspiration to anybody who sits back and thinks 'I'm not good at anything'."
Ellie won two gold medals, a silver and a bronze at the London 2012 Paralympics, and has also been named Inspirational Hero of 2012 at the Radio 1 Teen Awards.
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