|Lisburn Mayor Councillor Ronnie Crawford with Dr Janet Gray MBE and members of the City Council after he presented her with the Freedom of the City.|
A SPORTING heroine who defied all the odds by recovering from an appalling accident to regain her crown as a world champion has been given Lisburn's highest honour - the Freedom of the City.
Dr Janet Gray MBE was recognised by Lisburn Council in acknowledgement of her lifetime achievements, which include excelling in the field of Disabled Water Skiing, continuous charity work and being a true Ambassador for Sport for all young athletes locally, nationally and globally.
Janet reached the pinnacle of her sport by winning the World Disabled Championship in the three disciplines of slalom, tricks and jumps. She was World Disabled Water Ski Champion in 1997,1999, 2001 and 2003.
But during training in 2004, a horrific accident nearly cost her her life. Her strength and determination enabled her to fight for life and after three long, painful years of intensive rehabilitation and numerous operations she stunned the sporting world by taking her fifth victory in the 2007 World Disabled Water Ski Championships in
Lisburn City Council's Mayor, Councillor Ronnie Crawford speaking at the Ceremony said: "Having lost your sight at aged 21 the Freedom of the City honours your strength of character, your sheer dedication and willpower and your example to others to pursue their dreams and ambitions, even in the face of tremendous misfortune and tragedy. In our modern, easy come easy go society, your drive to achieve world-class status so many times is one of the finest examples of how all of us should live our lives everyday. "So, with all the pride and honour that you bring to our City, through your sporting and charity work, it gives me great pleasure to invite you, Dr Janet Gray to accept the Grant of the Honorary Freedom of the City of Lisburn, by signing the roll of Honorary Freeman," he concluded.
In reply Janet said it was a great honour and continued:
"I was stunned when the Council first approached me and I feel humbled by the honour. I am very pleased to have been given the opportunity to be an Ambassador for the City of Lisburn and I feel very privileged on accepting this honour from the Council."
The momentous occasion started with a cavalcade following Janet on a tour of the City in a horse drawn carriage, on route to Lagan Valley Island. The ceremony was held in the Council Chamber, during which the Mayor presented her with a scroll and specially commissioned silver casket to mark the occasion.
A tree planting ceremony followed in the grounds of Lagan Valley Island, where former Freemen of the City have already planted trees. A demonstration by Maghaberry Primary School of the 'Five Star Disability Sports Challenge' was then held at the front of the building for guests and members of the public.
The Mayor on behalf of the City also presented Janet with a commissioned sculpture, by John Sherlock, depicting Janet skiing over the water creating a huge wave backdrop.
|Janet with her husband Paul arriving at Lagan Valley Island.||Mayor Councillor Ronnie Crawford presenting the Freedom of the City to Janet Gray|
|Deputy Mayor, Alderman Edwin Poots, with City of Lisburn Athletic Club who took part in the event||Janet with Dame Mary Peters after she received the Freedom of The City. Mary is also a Freeman of Lisburn.|
|Mayor Councillor Ronnie Crawford planting a tree after the ceremony in Lagan Valley Island. Also pictured are members of Lisburn City Council, along with Mrs Joan Christie, Lord Lieutenant of Antrim.|