KISSES and congratulations greeted double gold medallist Hannah Cockroft as she visited Hebden Bridge on a fund-raising mission.
Calderdale’s own Paralympian star spent two hours at Hebden Bridge Town Hall on Thursday afternoon, meeting and greeting a lengthy line of well-wishers who turned up to give their congratulations and to have their photos taken with Hannah, her two London 2012 medals and the Olympic torch she had carried through Brighouse.
The idea of inviting the wheelchair athlete from Mount Tabor, Halifax, came from Hebden Bridge Visitor Centre’s Suzy Hesselden.
Although Hannah now has an agent and is much in demand after her heroics at the Paralympic Games, she accepted the invitation and helped raise more than £300 in donations from people who popped cash into donation buckets for either the town’s business community or for homeowners stricken by the summer floods.
Suzy was delighted not only with the turnout of people - about 300 lined up patiently to be pictured with a smiling Hannah - but also with the fact that a table next to where the athlete was seated was left brimming with gifts for her from well-wishers.
“The event was extremely well attended and it supported an incredible community,” said Suzy.
“The tourist information centre wanted to support businesses and individuals and by bringing such an inspirational character as Hannah to the town we are hoping to inspire a new generation. It has allowed us to celebrate the whole Olympic event in Hebden Bridge.”
Wheelchair racer Hannah, 20, who excelled at the 100m and 200m T34 events in London in August and September, suffered two cardiac arrests when she was born and was left with weak hips and deformed legs and feet.
But her disability has not prevented her from becoming a household name and a world champion in her chosen field.
She said she was grateful to the Calderdale community and local sponsors for supporting her rise to international success. “It all helps to boost your profile and if you are out there doing your thing, it is a good way of getting your message across,” she said.