GOLDEN girl Jessica Ennis’ Walk Of Fame plaque is about to shine brighter than ever - it’s being turned gold, writes Graham Walker.
The Legends plaque, which she unveiled last year outside Sheffield Town Hall, has been temporarily removed and given a “golden hue”.
It commemorates her momentous win as Olympic heptathlon champion, proud council chiefs revealed today as they outlined civic reception plans for Friday.
The new-look golden plaque, to remain alongside regular plaques honouring other Sheffield greats including Seb Coe, Michael Palin, Sean Bean and Joe Cocker, will be revealed by Jessica on stage at her homecoming reception in Barker’s Pool - where trees and lampposts will also be wrapped in gold.
The Royal Mail started it when they painted a red post box gold - also in Barker’s Pool - to honour her achievement.
Now thousands of fans are being asked to bring or wear something gold, to create a “sea of gold” at the city celebrations to honour her return.
Music, sport and the colour gold will be theme of the reception to mark the 26-year-old’s greatest sporting success. Sheffield Lord Mayor Coun John Campbell will officially welcome Jessica home, supported by the Leader of Sheffield City Council, Coun Julie Dore.
“Jessica is a true superstar and we want to give her a massive Sheffield welcome home,” said the Lord Mayor.
“She has done her home city proud. She is such a great ambassador for Sheffield and we are so proud of her so let’s all come together to celebrate her achievement. Jessica has stayed strong to her Sheffield roots by being educated here through school and university, training here and seeing Sheffield as her home. She has risen to the occasion and now is the time for the city to rise to her.”
The celebrations will begin at 4pm when Balm Green next to the City Hall will be transformed into a mini athletics track where young people can try out their skills on some of the sporting disciplines of the heptathlon provided by Activity Sheffield.
Sheffield bands and musicians – Sarah Mac and The Hot Soles - will take to the stage from 5pm and followed by a celebration of Jessica’s journey to Olympic success will be shown on big screens alongside the stage and on Fargate near the Town Hall.
The ceremony will then begin on stage at 6.30pm with Master of Ceremonies Toby Foster. The event will end around 7pm and the Everly Pregnant Brothers will finish the celebration with a song written specially in Jessica’s honour. A private reception for Jessica and her family will then take place in the City Hall.
Jessica, who will be the star guest on the sofa with Jonathan Ross when his show returns on Saturday, is looking forward to coming home. She said: “Winning the Olympics in Britain has exceeded everything I could have ever wished for – I am still in a state of disbelief! Being Olympic Champion is the best feeling ever and as an athlete the ultimate achievement.
“I have to say a big thank you to both the people of Sheffield who have believed in me and backed me over the years and to the people who were there in the stadium in London who really lifted me every step of the way.”
Jessica, who attended King Ecgbert School in Dore before going to the University of Sheffield, gained a degree in psychology in 2007. She is a key member of the City of Sheffield Athletics Club.
* The following road closures will be in place on Friday: 06.00 – 00.00 Balm Green / Junction of West Street; 07.30 – 20.00 Burgess Street closed from John Lewis loading bay; 16.00 – 20.00 Division Street / Junction of Carver Lane / Cambridge Street; 16.00 – 20.00 Leopold Street / Junction of West Street; 16.00 – 20.00; Surrey Street / Junction of Norfolk Street; 16.00 – 20.00 Pinstone Street.