PARALYMPIC heroes had a day to remember as Leeds saluted their part in Britain’s fabulous summer of sport.
London 2012 competitors Claire Cashmore, Hannah Cockroft, Ali Jawad and David Stone were honoured at a homecoming celebration in the city.
Hundreds of people turned out for the lunchtime event in Millennium Square, many waving Union flags or banners featuring ‘well done’ messages.
And the stars of the show said the warmth of their reception made the occasion every bit as special as Monday’s spectacular Olympic and Paralympic victory parade in London.
Swimming ace and triple 2012 medallist Claire, who trains at the John Charles Centre for Sport in Beeston, told the YEP: “The parade was incredible, obviously, but I’ve been training in Yorkshire for four years and it’s a home from home for me now.
“It’s like the people who are here have been on the journey with me.”
Claire added: “I really hope that I have inspired someone, even if it’s just one person, to realise it’s ability not disability that counts.”
Gold and bronze medal-winning Rawdon cyclist David said: “It’s another day I’ll never forget. The turnout here is absolutely amazing – the support that has come from Yorkshire has always been fantastic.”
The crowd at the city council-backed event included students from Leeds’s West Specialist Inclusive Learning Centre.
Behavioural support worker Lynne Thackray said: “We only found out about this [on Wednesday] but there was no way we were going to miss it.”
Also in attendance was a group of pupils from South Leeds Academy.
One, Oskar Mcwalter, 11, said: “[The Paralympians] have been through a lot but they’re still really determined – they are superheroes.”
Guests at the event also included the lord Mayor of Leeds, Coun Ann Castle.
She said: “It was great to see so many people at the celebration event, thanks to everyone for coming along.
“It made for a lovely atmosphere which all four of our Paralympians really appreciated.
“This has been a magical few weeks for the whole country to enjoy and it has been fantastic to see Leeds and Yorkshire at the forefront of both the Olympics and Paralympics.
“We will always look back on London 2012 with memories of an amazing time and hope it has inspired people of all ages and especially young people to get involved in sport and realise dreams can come true.”
* Double gold medallist wheelchair racer Hannah Cockroft is from Halifax but trains at the John Charles Centre for Sport. Powerlifter Ali Jawad is based at Leeds Metropolitan University.