Emotional Murray accepts honour

Andover Advertiser: Andy Murray, right, accepts the Freedom of Stirling from Stirling Council Provost Mike Robbins Andy Murray, right, accepts the Freedom of Stirling from Stirling Council Provost Mike Robbins

Tennis star Andy Murray struggled to hold back tears as he was granted the f reedom of Stirling on an emotional return to his home town.

The Wimbledon champion was overcome with emotion as he thanked local officials for the honour during a ceremony held in his former school, Dunblane High.

Murray, 26, had to pause and wipe his eyes several times during his speech when he told those gathered in Murray Hall - including girlfriend Kim Sears - ''It feels good to be home''.

Mother Judy, father William and both sets of his grandparents watched as Stirling Provost Mike Robbins handed the star a framed scroll with his full title, Andy Barron Murray OBE.

Murray, his voice cracking at times, told the audience: ''I'm going to keep this very short because there's a good chance I'll get emotional.

''I'd like to thank the council for voting me in - I was expecting a few nos. I was thinking, 'there's got to be one of you who doesn't like me'.

''I'd like to thank all my family and friends and girlfriend for coming to support me.''

He apologised as he took another break to calm his emotions, and was given a standing ovation as he said: ''I think everyone knows I'm extremely proud of where I come from.

''To get this honour means a lot to me so thanks to everyone for coming along - and I apologise for this behaviour.''

Murray returned to the school hall later for a press conference and explained what made him so emotional.

He said: ''I don't get the chance to come back that often and I don't get the chance to see my family as much as I would like, and I'm very proud of where I come from. So to get this honour from my local council means a lot.

''I don't think anyone would have really expected it - tennis players don't really come from Scotland, so it's a strange story, but shows that anything can happen if you believe and you dream and work hard, then you can achieve whatever you want to.

''It was a difficult decision to move away but one that I had to make and I'm lucky that my family supported me in that decision because it was hard for them too.

''You spend a lot of time on the road - tennis can be quite lonely sometimes - but it was a decision that had to be made if I wanted to achieve my goal.''

Stirling Council decided to honour Murray after his success at the 2012 Olympics and his first Grand Slam win in the US later that year.

The tennis star's training and competition schedule meant he could only receive the Freedom of the City now.

He was inevitably asked by the press about any wedding plans, and responded bluntly with: ''No, no.''

As he left the hall he paused to chat, sign autographs and take ''selfie'' photographs with pupils.

Sixth year pupil Alex McRae said: ''Everyone here is behind Andy at all his events so it was brilliant to meet him.

''He was overwhelmed by the people who came to see him and it was emotional for him.

''There are swimmers, footballers and tennis players in the school and I think everyone has been motivated by what he said.

''He even asked us about our exams and personal lives. He took a real interest and it just shows that he's a nice guy.''

Later Murray will be presented with the degree by the University of Stirling where he used to train on the courts of the Scottish National Tennis Centre.

University principal Professor Gerry McCormac said: ''We are delighted to welcome back Andy Murray to the university campus.

''One of the greatest athletes of his generation, Andy has broken the boundaries of British tennis and elevated the profile of the sport to new levels. His exceptional sporting abilities, diligence and tenacity make him an inspirational role model to our students and to people across the world.''

Murray said: ''I used to train there quite a lot, and even when I was in Spain I came back when I had an injury and I trained in the gym there.

''They are some of the best university sports facilities in the country, I believe. I enjoyed training there.''

Murray also took the opportunity to visit the luxury hotel he bought in January last year a few miles from Dunblane.

The five-star Cromlix opened earlier this month following a refurbishment. The hotel has 15 rooms and, not surprisingly, a tennis court.

Speaking at the venue, Murray said: ''I just got here last night and it's the first time I've seen it since it's all been done and it looks great.''

He joked: ''I hope they haven't charged me for a room but I haven't checked out yet so we'll see.''

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