LISBURN'S sporting heroine Dr. Janet Gray has said she is
"honoured and privileged" after the City Council voted to give
her the freedom of the city.
Janet was informed on Tuesday by Alderman
Edwin Poots that he would be putting the proposal forward for
the World Champion blind waterskier to be made a freeperson of
Janet, who has recently returned from the
European Disabled Waterski Championships in Recetto, Italy,
where she picked up a team Gold medal, despite being rescued
from a fire at her hotel before the event, said the honour had
"just come out of the blue."
Janet said: "Edwin phoned me to say he was
putting the motion forward for me to be given the freedom of the
city. I was really surprised and absolutely delighted.
"This is a tremendous honour and it came at a
lovely time, I've had a rough few weeks with everything that
happened in Italy, but this is such an honour and I am very
"I think there will be a ceremony in the
spring," continued Janet. "This is a very old custom that goes
way back, I'm not fully sure what it means in modern terms but
it is the highest honour you can receive within the city, it is
right up there with the Doctorate and the MBE for me." Making
the proposal to the City Council, Deputy Mayor Alderman Edwin
Poots said Dr. Gray had made vital contributions to her sport.
He also pointed out her last triumph at the World Championships
in 2007 came just three years after a horrific accident which
left her struggling with extensive injuries.
She has been a great ambassador for sport,
disability and Northern Ireland, as well as her own City of
Lisburn and has demonstrated huge courage and commitment where
others would have given up," he added. It is a great honour for
the council to be able to award her the Freedom of the City, and
to recognise her achievements in such a way."
His proposal was seconded by Alderman Ivan
Davis who said he was 'delighted' to do so.
Dr. Gray has won the World Disabled
Championship in three disciplines. She is the world record
holder in all three and was World Champion in 1999, 2001 and
2003. Her strength and determination were evident following her
Doctors were highly sceptical about her
chances of ever walking again but after three long, painful
years of intensive rehabilitation and numerous operations she
stunned the sports world by donning her water-skis and taking
first place at the 2007 World Disabled Championships in