Freedom ceremony will be family affair for Hoy

2008's open-top bus parade down the Royal Mile
2008's open-top bus parade down the Royal Mile
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SIR Chris Hoy’s family are expected to be among hundreds of guests invited to watch him receive the freedom of the city.

The six-time Olympic gold medallist will be presented with the honour in front of 500 fellow Olympians and dignitaries.

Council officials have moved swiftly to ensure there will be no repeat of the problem which saw his family face an anxious wait over tickets for his events in the London 2012 Games.

The civil ceremony will take place on Sunday, September 16, following an open-top bus parade through the city which is expected to see thousands of residents line the streets to celebrate their Olympic heroes.

Contrary to incorrect information contained in yesterday’s Evening News, the parade route will go from the City Chambers, across Princes Street and along George Street before finishing at the Assembly Rooms, where Hoy will be given the freedom of the city.

The ceremony will make him one of the few living recipients of the award which is also held by the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, Sir Sean Connery, Nelson Mandela and Aung San Suu Kyi.

The council said it had told Sir Chris to invite as many members of his close family as he wished, and said it would also be extending an invitation to those who had helped him in his career, including officials from SportScotland and British Cycling.

The audience will also include fellow Olympians taking part in the parade. Gold medal-winning rower Katherine Grainger and silver medal-winning canoeist David 
Florence are among those invited to attend. Local volunteers who helped at the Games and local councillors will also be among those invited.

Liberal Democrat councillor Paul Edie said: “I think it’s going to be a great day. It’s going to be fantastic to have our Olympic champions on display and that Chris Hoy is being given this civic honour.

“It will be a wonderful day for the people of Edinburgh.

“The sportsmen and women will love it as well. They peak once every four years and it’s a huge deal to them to take part and win an Olympic medal. This is going to be a chance for the public to show how proud we are of them and tell them how they’ve lifted everyone’s summer.”

The event will be followed by a civic reception, hosted by the Lord Provost in honour of the athletes, their coaches and support staff, as well as London 2012 officials and volunteers.

The open-top bus leaves from the City Chambers at 2.15pm on the day, going up the Royal Mile and turning on to The Mound. It will make its way slowly down the hill, past the giant symbol of the Paralympic Games and will cross Princes Street on to Hanover Street where a postbox painted gold in Sir Chris’s honour stands, officials said.

The final leg of the journey will see the bus turning right on to George Street, performing a short loop, before heading west along the street.

The council said it expected thousands of people to line the streets to welcome the athletes home – and some will be able to meet their sporting heroes during walkabouts planned for the beginning and end of the parade.

Deputy council leader Steve Cardownie said: It may not have been organised as quickly as people would have liked but it will be organised well. We wanted to make sure it took place after the Paralympics so our Paralympians can participate as well.

“Chris Hoy is a great ambassador for the city. He’s Britain’s greatest Olympian and it’s fitting that he should be awarded the freedom of the city. It should be a fantastic turnout.”