Published: 08:00, 16 April 2014 |
Updated: 09:52, 17 April 2014
Medway’s golden girl, champion skier Charlotte Evans returned home to a worthy civic reception this week.
Mayor of Medway, Cllr Josie Iles hosted a surprise tea party in honour of Charlotte and her partially-blind skiing partner Kelly Gallagher, who became the first ever Britons to win a gold medal in the Winter Paralympics.
Among those waiting in the wings to give them a rousing welcome at the Civic Centre on Tuesday were former teachers, coaches, sponsors, family and friends.
“You are amazing, you are an inspiration and you are the best in the world.” - Neil Davies
The girls, clearly overwhelmed, were greeted by civic dignitaries including Robin Cooper, director community and culture, who held an impromptu Q and A session with them.
Coach Charlotte said: “It was a fantastic occasion for both of us. She felt our medals and talked about her granddaughter Zara Phillips, who is also an Olympic medallist.”
Kelly from Belfast, is visiting the UK and joined Charlotte, 23, to meet the Queen at Windsor Castle where an Irish state visit was being held.
Mr Cooper said: “You thought you were just popping in for a cup of tea with the mayor. But this is more like ‘This Is Your Life’.
“Britain is a great country. It’s taken Andy Murray to be the first Briton to win Wimbledon in 77 years and Bradley Wiggins became the first Briton to win the Tour de France and and with you girls’ we’ve had to wait 90 years.
“You are amazing, you are an inspiration and you are the best in the world.”
The pair, with Charlotte as Kelly’s guide, claimed first place in the visually impaired super-G downhill, bouncing back from a disappointing start at the winter games in Sochi, Russia.
They had been hoping to win another medal on the final day, but crashed out of the women’s giant slalom after Kelly’s ski came off in the first run down the course.
Charlotte turned to coaching and became involved with paralympics team after suffering a serious knee injury in the English Championships in 2009. which threatened her promising career.
She started skiing at the age of four and used to practise regularly at Chatham Ski Centre with younger sister Emily.
Charlotte said: “ It was pretty tough. We were the first on, which was a bit nerve racking and it seemed ages until the results were announced. If anything I remember telling Kelly off because she did not do what I asked her to.
Among the guests at the Civic Centre were Mark Lampard and Graham Heath, who are both sports science lecturers at MidKent College where Charlotte studied from 2008 to 2010.
Mr Heath said; “We would let her off to compete because that has always where she wanted to be to represent her country. But she would always make it up and catch up with her work when she returned.”
Mr Lampard said: “Charlotte has always been well driven and I'm not surprised by her success. She knew what she was capable of but never bragged about it.”
Mayor, Cllr Josie Iles, said: “I think it is tremendously important that we recognise people’s talent. Perhaps we don’t do it enough in Medway. It’s wonderful to welcome Charlotte back to her home town. She is, after all Medway’s golden girl.”
Her parents, Keith and Siobhan Evans, both said: “We are extremely proud of her.”
Mrs Evans added: “After her accident I don’t think either of us thought we would see this day.”
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