Friday, August 19, 1966

COMMONWEALTH Games star Pauline Sillett returned to a spectacular hero's welcome in her home town.

The 17-year-old swimmer won gold and bronze at the Games in Jamaica and was welcomed home with Radcliffe's first civic reception in 30 years.

As hundreds of people began to gather outside the town hall on Tuesday, Pauline was still unaware of the huge crowds awaiting her on her return.

After a celebratory meal with her family, she had been expecting a quiet evening at home before her father, Leonard, told her about the reception at just half an hour's notice.

She said: "I nearly collapsed when I was told, but I was very thrilled."

The last civic reception of this kind was for athlete Nellie Halstead, who won gold and bronze medals in the Empire Games in 1934 and the 1936 Olympics.

The streets were strung with bunting - left up specially from Saturday's carnival - and the Borough Band played a triumphal march as Pauline entered the town hall, with uniformed youth groups forming a guard of honour.

Waiting on the steps to greet her were the Mayor and Mayoress, David Ensor MP, and the carnival queen, Shirley Jackson.

Bouquets were presented by the Mayoress and by Beverley Eaton, aged six, from Radcliffe Swimming Club.

The Mayor, Alderman Jack Lomax, said: "At the age of 11, Pauline had said she would go to the Tokyo Olympics and with hard work and the help of many people, her ambition had been realised. In four years she has represented her country in more than 20 internationals."

There were cheers as Pauline held up her gold medal, won as a member of the world record-breaking medley relay team, and the bronze, won in the freestyle relay.

Thanking everyone for their support, her father said: "I'm the most proud fellow in the town."

Pauline, who left for the European Championships in Utrecht yesterday, added: "I had a wonderful time in Jamaica. The heat got me down a bit at first, but I got used to it. Now I'm glad to be home, if only for a short time."