By Ian Dipple Friday 12 October 2012 Updated: 12/10 10:36
OLYMPIAN Nick Skelton said he was honoured to be part of Alcester as the town celebrated its gold medal winning hero at a special civic reception.
About 100 dignitaries, schools pupils, councillors, members of Alcester Olympics and other organisations throughout the town turned out to welcome the 54-year-old during Wednesday's event (October 10) at the Sixth Form Centre at St Benedict's Catholic High School.
Skelton, who only arrived back in the country two days before as he has been away competing, said he was surprised so many people had turned out to support him.
"It's a great honour to be part of Alcester. If there's anything I can do to help out in the community I will, when time is on my side."
Skelton, who lives in Shelfield near Great Alne, said he had been so busy since leading Team GB to showjumping gold in London he had not really had time to reflect on his achievement.
"It's been very hectic at the moment, since London I have been home two days and I've been away ever since backwards and forwards to Dublin, Lausanne, Vienna, Rio, Florida all over," he said.
"I don't know when I'll get a break, I could do with one, but I've been riding every week since so it's part of your job you just keep going and reflect as you go along.
"Winning the medal has been great for everybody, especially in the local community, and this is a great night they've put on and I really appreciate it."
During the evening he was presented with a portrait, commissioned by Alcester Town Council, of himself, horse Big Star and his gold medal, to mark the occasion.
"I think it's amazing. It's brilliant of Big Star and it's even made me look good. I'll find a good spot for it in the house for sure," Skelton added.
Artist Melissa Mailer-Yates, who has painted for a host of celebrities and royalty around the world, produced the picture form photographs and said while it only took two or three weeks to paint, the actual process had happened over about two months.
"When I paint a painting, I paint it about a dozen times all in my head, so as I'm putting the composition together that process happens over and over again until I know exactly where I am going with it," she said.
"Without that preparation you don't get the essence of the person, the essence of the horse and all the things that make it a painting instead of a photograph because that's the key, it's not just a reproduction of Nick or Big Star.
"My paintings are all over the world and it's really nice to be here doing something for Alcester and now I'm part of the structure of the town and being part of Alcester is brilliant."
Mayor Lennox Cumberbatch thanked Skelton for choosing Alcester as the location for his gold post box and hailed his tremendous career to date, including the way he fought back from breaking his neck in two places in 2000 to return to riding at the highest level.
"We had a wonderful Olympics in Alcester, the country had a wonderful time but it's not until you meet and talks to individuals like Nick Skelton you come to terms with issues like determination, commitment and an ability to press on regardless.
"We are very proud and would like to thank Nick for everything he has done in the past and what he has done this year."
Pupils from St Nicholas' Primary School also got to meet Skelton and pose with him and his gold medal.
Jodie Palmer, ten, said: "I asked what his favourite horse was but he said liked all of them."
George Davis, 11, added: "It was an opportunity of a lifetime."
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