Hundreds turn out to see Lionesses star Lauren Hemp given freedom of town

lauren hemp hold her freedom of the town award with town mayor

North Walsham Town Mayor Garry Bull and European Champion Lauren Hemp. - Credit: Danielle Booden

Lionesses star Lauren Hemp was beaming with pride as huge crowds turned out to see her given the freedom of her hometown of North Walsham.

The Euro 22 winner was hailed by hundreds of cheering onlookers - many donning England shirts - at the town's Market Cross as she was given the Freedom of the Town on Friday.

Lauren Hemp

Lauren Hemp addresses the onlooking spectators who gathered in huge numbers to greet the European Champion. - Credit: Danielle Booden

She was given the honour by North Walsham mayor Garry Bull - and she could not have been prouder.

"It feels pretty surreal to be honest, so many people have come out and I really didn't expect to see so many," she said.

"It is incredible to have and feel that support from the people in my home town and the city as well. everyone has been fantastic.

"As a team, the support we have received across the whole country has been unbelievable, I am proud to be part of this town and it's great to see so many people turn up," she said.

Lauren has already received many personal honours in her career including the England Young Player of the Year in September 2016, 2017 and PFA Women's Young Player of the Year in 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2022, Lauren says 'the sky is the limit'.

England's Lauren Hemp (left), Jill Scott (centre) and Beth Mead celebrate with the trophy after Engl

England's Lauren Hemp (right), Jill Scott (centre) and Beth Mead celebrate with the trophy after England win the UEFA Women's Euro 2022 final at Wembley Stadium - Credit: PA

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Her career achievements were topped by Sunday's win, with England beating Germany 2-1 at Wembley in the final.

A packed street of fans gather the town to greet and honour their hero.

A packed street of fans gather the town to greet and honour their hero. - Credit: Danielle Booden

"For me I hope this is only the beginning, I am still only 21. My career has only just started and it is surreal to be getting such recognition from my hometown so early on, " she said.

"The sky is the limit, I am just going to keep working hard, stay focussed and see how far I can go, with the European Championship complete, next is the World Cup - I don't see why we can't win that too."

Children gather close to the front for a prime view

Children gather close to the front for a prime view of the local star. - Credit: Danielle Booden

Lauren began playing football for North Walsham Youth FC and now she hopes to inspire more girls to play.

"We have hit record viewing and attendances in stadiums so hopefully our success can inspire more and more girls into the game," she said.

"It feels good to bring a championship home as England haven't won a tournament since the famous 1966 World Cup win, so it is so special to make history and be the team to bring the country success.

"It is only the start, so hopefully we will continue to be successful and win more and more trophies and get the word about more to increase participation levels in the game."