Chance to celebrate with Olympic stars
CITY chiefs are hoping thousands will show how proud they are of Plymouth's Olympians, Paralympians and Games Makers at today's grand homecoming parade.
After an amazing sporting summer which gave us so many breath-taking moments, the parade through the city will be the last chance to celebrate and honour the achievements of those who took part – and those who helped make the London 2012 Games happen.
Diving star Tom Daley, who won an emotional bronze medal in the 10-metre individual men's platform event, and 15-year-old Lithuanian swimmer Ruta Meilutyte, who sensationally raced to gold in the 100-metre women's breaststroke, will be among athletes taking part in the event.
Others confirmed include divers Tonia Couch and Sarah Barrow, swimmers Antony James, Jamila Lunkuse and Jade Howard, fencer Corinna Lawrence, synchronised swimmer Olivia Federici, wheelchair basketball player Judith Hamer and Paralympic table tennis star David Wetherill.
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Tom's diving coach Andy Banks and Ruta's swimming coach Jon Rudd will also be taking part.
Other dignitaries gearing up for the event include Lithuanian ambassador Dr Oskaras Jusys and Plymouth College headmaster Dr Simon Wormleighton.
Deputy council leader Peter Smith said: "Our Olympians, Paralympians and Games Makers have done a fantastic job and this is Plymouth's chance to say 'we are so proud of you'."
Organisers say they are hoping to see an estimated crowd of between 15,000 and 20,000 people this evening.
The event will culminate in the athletes taking to the stage set up outside the Guildhall, with live interviews being relayed to the Big Screen at Armada Way's Piazza.
Cllr Smith said the homecoming parade marked the end of an immensely successful summer for the city, which has played host to a number of large-scale events.
"You tick them all off and it's a job to even remember them all," he said.
"We began with the arrival of the Olympic Flame on the Hoe which drew around 50,000 people, then national Armed Forces Day with a further 60,000 on the Hoe.
"We've also had the Marine City Festival, FlavourFest and the Plymouth Seafood Festival, not to mention the International Book Festival, the National Fireworks Championships and the Jazz and Blues Festival.
"Add to that the Olympics and Paralympics on the Big Screen and the events have covered the entire spectrum – from arts, to music, to sport and food – and each of these events have been free for the public to enjoy.
"It's been a really positive summer, building on last year's British Art Show and America's Cup.
"All in all it's been a fantastic summer festival season in Plymouth and we hope everyone will come out to the homecoming parade and celebrate."
Estimated times for homecoming parade
5.15pm: Open top bus leaves Plymouth College in Mutley and heads to city centre, via Peverell Park Road, Outland Road, the Plymouth Life Centre, Alma Road, Pennycomequick Roundabout, North Cross Roundabout, Cobourg Street, Charles Street, Charles Cross Roundabout and Exeter Street viaduct (above Bretonside).
5.45pm: Bus arrives at the top of Royal Parade, where it will be joined by London 2012 Games Makers from Plymouth. The Games Makers will walk behind the bus as it travels down the Civic Centre side of Royal Parade. The bus will then turn left at Derry's Cross and head along Princess Way and Princess Street towards Plymouth Guildhall.
6pm: Bus arrives on Armada Way, outside the Plymouth Guildhall.
6.20pm: Athletes and selected Games Makers welcomed on to stage in Guildhall Square by Lord Mayor of Plymouth, before being interviewed live.
7pm: Civic Reception in Council House, hosted by Lord Mayor