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Saturday, 20 December 2014

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Welcome home party for Cumbria's Olympic archer Alan Wills

A Cumbrian Olympian was given the surprise of a lifetime when he returned home from London 2012.

Alan Wills photo
Alan Wills is welcomed home

Archer Alan Wills missed out on the medals in London but his girlfriend organised a special celebration when he arrived back in Lazonby.

Bunting, Union flags and screaming children greeted Alan as he arrived before being driven to the village hall in a specially-decorated trailer.

He said: “It’s been a long day of travelling and this is a huge shock. It’s brilliant – I can’t believe they’ve closed the roads.

“I thought there might be something like this if I got a medal but this is really nice.”

He signed memorabilia for fans and friends and gave a speech outside the village hall.

Wills is originally from Frizington but spends a lot of time in Lazonby.

His girlfriend, Gail Eastham, who lives in the village, said: “I’m so proud, and this proves how proud everybody is of Alan.

“This means the world to me, and for his community and the people around here.”

Alan represented Britain in both the individual and team contests at London 2012 and at Beijing in 2008.

The 31-year-old competed at Lords Cricket Ground but missed out on a medal by a tiny margin after a shootout with Australia’s Taylor Worth.

Alan’s mum Lesley said: “This is spectacular and he had no idea. You should have seen the look on his face!

“I think he’s loving it and I hope it raises the profile of his archery. This is the result of 15 years of hard work.”

Before making his way into the hall Alan was handed a celebratory bottle of champagne.

Lazonby resident Nathan Gregory was enjoying the event with his wife Annabel and daughter Poppy.

Mr Gregory said: “It’s been amazing. It’s taking the Olympics out of London and helps people realise that they’re normal people who do extraordinary things.”

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