Welcome home, our golden girl
HUNDREDS of people lined the main street of Lennox Head to welcome home Ballina Shire's golden girl, Jacqueline Freney, on Tuesday, and it was a special moment for the Paralympian.
"This is fantastic ... it's so good to be home," she said.
Ms Freney, who lives at Skennars Head, won eight gold medals at the London Paralympics.
She arrived back in town late last week and Ballina Shire Council promptly set to work to organise a welcoming party.
It involved a street parade in which Ms Freney was chauffeured down Ballina St in a Mercedes convertible driven by the Ballina Shire's Citizen of the Year, Col Lee.
An official reception was followed by autograph signings and a barbecue provided by the Lennox Head Lions Club.
"This is better than the AFL grand final," Ms Freney said.
"It was surreal going through town and seeing my supporters and fans.
"It's great to have a community like this at home.
"None of this has really sunk in yet. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would win eight gold medals."
Ballina Mayor David Wright said Ms Freney was a "wonderful young lady".
"To say that the Ballina Shire is proud of Jacqueline Freney is putting it mildly," Cr Wright said.
"Jacqueline, I cannot imagine anything better in my term as mayor than honouring your achievements."