THE pride of a quiet residential street for Paralympic champion Lily van den Broecke yesterday shone brighter than its gold postbox.
Excited neighbours gathered to congratulate her father dad Floris van den Broecke as the post box on the corner of Hill Top Road and Divinity Road, East Oxford, got its golden paint job. Ms Van Den Broecke was cox as David Smith, James Roe, Naomi Riches and Pamela Relph rowed to a gold medal on Sunday in the mixed coxed four at Eton Dorney.
Ms Van Den Broecke, who wears a hearing aid but is the only able-bodied member of the team, was unable to attend the official unveiling. But she told the Oxford Mail: “We really felt part of something special. Thank you to everyone for coming and cheering for us. It was incredible.”
The former Headington School pupil paid tribute to the crowds at her event and said: “When we crossed the finish line, I felt relief all over me came all over at once, real pride and honour to have rowed so well in front of friends and family and British people.”
The 20-year-old Durham University student added: “I really cannot believe that I have a gold postbox, thanks to the Royal Mail. “It’s gone where I grew up, I love Oxford so much and I cannot wait to see it.”
Dad Mr Van Den Broecke, 68, and Ms Van Den Broecke’s mum Amanda Carpenter cheered on their daughter during the final. Mr Van Den Broecke said: “We are elated.
“I think the postbox is wonderful, I cannot wait to put a letter in the postbox with her stamp on it.”
As with Olympians, Paralympian gold medal winners are also having special stamps produced by the Royal Mail to mark their achievements. Local people stopped to have a look yesterday as the post box was being repainted. Laura Elliott, of Hill Top Road, said: “We think it is fantastic to have Lily winning gold and to get our own gold post box.”
Geraldine Coggins, of Southfield Road, said: “I am really pleased, Lily has worked so hard over the years for this and it is wonderful that she has got gold.”
The newly spruced-up post box in Divinity Road is the first Oxford has seen as a result of the 2012 games. Despite the fact that gold medal winning rower Andy Triggs-Hodge lives in Cowley, the Royal Mail decided not to repaint a post box in Oxford for him because he grew up elsewhere in the country. Royal Mail spokesman Candice Macdonald, said: “We are delighted to have painted the post box gold in Oxford to mark Lily van den Broecke’s gold medal win.”