HIGH Legh champion Niki Birrell has been granted the Freedom of the Borough after his success at the Paralympics.

The sailor, who won bronze in the Skud class, was granted the status – the highest accolade the council can bestow upon an individual – at a ceremony in Congleton.

As well as the Freedom of the Borough, Niki will have a street named after him – Niki Birrell Way – as a permanent way of marking the lifetime achievement.

The honour was bestowed on another six athletes who excelled in cycling, sailing and gymnastics including Sarah Storey, Barney Storey, Craig MacLean, Beth Tweddle, Ben Ainslie and Victoria Pendleton.

Cheshire East Mayor George Walton presented the certificate.

He said: “The legislation says that Freemen should have rendered eminent service, and there is no doubt that these seven athletes have done this.

“They have not only made significant achievements in their chosen sport, but have also contributed to the wider community and Cheshire East.”

Clr Jones added: “This year sport, and particularly the Olympics, has captured the nation’s hearts, and it is only right that we recognise the achievements of those who have given us so much joy over the summer.

“To have seven top athletes from Cheshire East is quite remarkable, and hopefully this will inspire children and adults to take part in sport and maybe provide the Olympic and Paralympic stars of tomorrow.”