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Issue 300 – “It’s great to be back home”

A hero’s return awaited Formula 1 Champion Jenson Button last week when he returned to Frome, where he grew up, to receive the freedom of the town from Mayor of Frome, councillor Damon Hooton.

Thousands of people descended on the Market Yard car park where Jenson, nicknamed the Frome Flyer, accepted the prestigious honour on the afternoon of Tuesday 4th June.
Before the presentation, Jenson made a trip back to the three schools that he went to when he lived in the town.
Jenson found himself in the hot seat in the morning, when the pupils at Vallis Primary School quizzed him about life as a Formula 1 driver. The pupils also sang a song dedicated to the driver’s championship success.
Naomi Pauley, headteacher at the school told the Frome Times, “Everybody at the school has been very excited about Jenson’s visit. The pupils made their own banners for the day and also wrote letters to him before he came.
“Jenson was here at the school from the age of four until he was nine years old. There are still a couple of members of staff at the school who were at the school when he was a pupil. They remember him as a very good pupil.
“The children prepared their own questions to ask Jenson for his visit and voted on which ones should be asked during the assembly.”
Selwood Middle School was the next stop for Jenson, where he took part in a question and answer session in a whole school assembly. Some of his former teachers at the school were there to greet him.
Stephen Kirby, headteacher at the school said, “Staff who taught Jenson remember him as being a good role-model even then: quiet, unassuming, determined to realise his dreams and still managed to do all his homework, despite having some time off for karting.
“He gave out MacLaren goodie bags to the five winners of a competition and generally conducted himself in an affable, personable manner. He came over as somebody who genuinely wanted to be there and enjoyed meeting the pupils and staff.”
“The pupils had prepared for his visit by making banners, submitting questions, entering the Maclaren competition in which they had to say why they were the most deserving of the prize and made a banner saying “You have made us realise that dreams can come true. Thank you.” It was an experience the pupils and staff will never forget.”
Afterwards, Jenson visited Frome Community College, where he studied in the nineties, before heading to the Market Yard car park, where a stage awaited him in front of thousands of fans who were there to see him receive the freedom of the town.
Frome’s mayor, councillor Damon Hooton did the honours of handing over the prestigious honour, in front of around 2,500 fans and national and local media. Councillor Hooton said, “Jenson has worked hard to achieve his success as no doubt a lot of young people have realised. It is a pleasure to honour his significant achievement in this way.”
Jenson said, “I was born in Frome and lived in Frome so it has played a big role in my life. It is very surreal to see so many people out – it’s great to be home and a real privilege to have the freedom of the town.
“It has been so nice talking on stage about what I’ve achieved and also visiting the three schools. I felt like a kid again. They were all wearing the uniform that I used to wear. and the children at Vallis had written a song for me and it was very emotional.
“The strange thing is, when I was visiting Frome College I actually felt like a student. A lot of the teachers that are there now are the same teachers that taught me back in the nineties and they know who I am and what I am, so I was a bit nervous!
“Mr Evans, my French teacher, gave me a ‘B’ – I don’t know how as I don’t speak very good French now and I’ve lived there for 10 years!”
“I came to Frome in 2004 to Selwood School to open a lift for wheelchair access and those kids are six years older now and they’re at the college, so I got to see how they’ve grown.”
Asked if he ever thought he could be a world champion, Jenson said, “You hope and put everything into your career, but you never know. As long as you give it your all and make the right decisions, you are on the right track.”
Frome Times asked Jenson if there are any old haunts in the town that he would visit, were he not under the spotlight of the media. He said, “Actually I drove past my old house on the way to the college and the garage doors are still painted the same colour and everything.
“Just driving around has been interesting. I have been to Frome several times over the past few years to see friends and family, but I haven’t stopped off anywhere. It has been a really good experience. Quite a weird experience, but a good one.”

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