Paraympic swimmers up for Freedom of Mansfield award

Ollie Hynd and Charlotte Henshaw with their medals

Ollie Hynd and Charlotte Henshaw with their medals

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​Paralympic swimming stars Ollie Hynd MBE and Charlotte Henshaw are set to receive the Freedom of Mansfield after their successes in Rio.

An extraordinary meeting of Mansfield District Council will consider the award proposal on October 26 and if agreed, the swimmers and their coach, Glenn Smith, will receive the honour at a pageant ceremony at the Civic Centre on 10 November.

The swimmers are to receive a local accolade on their Paralympic success

The swimmers are to receive a local accolade on their Paralympic success

Freedom of the district is the highest honour the town can give to its citizens and has been awarded on only four occasions since 1974.

For the Hynd family it is becoming something of a tradition after Ollie’s brother and fellow Paralympic swimming hero, Sam, received the honour along with Mansfield’s Olympic champion swimmer Rebecca Adlington in 2008.

Other recipients in the past have been the Cantamus Girls Choir, who gained a gold medal at the 2006 Choir Olympics in China and side-car world champions Tom and Ben Birchall.

Ollie and Charlotte, who have been coached by Mansfield District Council coach and Swimming Development Officer Glenn Smith for more than a decade, brought home four medals from the Paralympic Games in Rio in September.

With coach Glenn Smith

With coach Glenn Smith

They also have a string of other achievements at a world level under their swimming caps.

As well as this year's Paralympic success, Charlotte has won medals at World and European level, and was crowned a European champion in 2009, and again in 2016, and is the European record holder.

Ollie's two golds and a silver, made him the most decorated male GB swimmer at the Rio Paralympic games.

His breakthrough was in 2011 when he won medals at the European Championships. In 2012 he claimed a gold, silver and bronze medal at the London Paralympics and later that year, was awarded an MBE by the Queen for services to Disability Sport.

He has since won a "Grand Slam" of Paralympic, World, European and Commonwealth titles and holds the current world record for the S8 400m Freestyle and SM8 200m Individual Medley.

Mayor of Mansfield Kate Allsop said: “Ollie and Charlotte have worked so hard for their achievements - training in Mansfield pools.

"They are such inspirational role models for young people as well as great ambassadors for the district, who have helped put the town on the map, so it is only fitting that we, as a district, should show our gratitude in this way.

"Their success is also a huge achievement for their coach, Glenn, who has been inspiring swimmers to achieve great heights for more than two decades."

As well as the official Freedom ceremony, Ollie and Charlotte's latest honour is expected to be marked on the stage at the Big Switch On for the Christmas lights in Mansfield on 20 November.

The Freedom of the District is an honour that has been awarded for the past century and among its more historic features is that those granted it are allowed to herd sheep through the town.

Prior to 1974, under the old borough of Mansfield authority, it was awarded on only 19 occasions between 1914 and 1973.

Ollie said: "It will mean so much to me as a local lad to receive this honour - and also because my brother was awarded it, too. I hope it inspires other athletes that there are no limits over what you can achieve - whether disabled or not."

Charlotte added: "I am thrilled to received the Freedom of Mansfield and very humbled, too. It has been an honour to represent Mansfield as well as our country at the Paralympics and other swimming events around the world.

"And I am glad that Glenn is joining us in receiving this Freedom because we could not have achieved as much without him. He has been a brilliant support to both of us."

Glenn Smith said: "What a year! This has been an amazing time for Ollie and Charlotte and I am so proud of them and their achievements.

"I am completely stunned to be given the Freedom of Mansfield, as well as immensely proud."