The first British Virgin Islands London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games hopeful arrives in Hertfordshire on Tuesday June 8.
Athlete Eric Matthias will be raising his homeland flag above St Mary’s Church, Aston, at 7.45pm on Tuesday June 8, to celebrate the occasion.
The newly-elected British Virgin Islands premier - The Hon Ralph O’Neal- and other dignitaries are expected, as well as John Fuller the Herts 2012 Ambassador and members of the Hertfordshire is Ready for Winners Team.
The ceremony marks the occasion of the arrival of the first of a number of British Virgin Islands athletes and coaches coming to live and train in Hertfordshire in the run up to the Games.
The athletes will be training at Hertfordshire’s top-class facilities at the University Sports Village and at the Gosling Sports Park in Welwyn Garden City.
Villagers in Aston, near Stevenage, have offered their own homes to Team British Virgin Islands - providing a family atmosphere in which they can relax after training in a quiet and peaceful setting.
The British Virgin Islands flag will fly from St Mary’s in Broadwater Lane whenever an athlete is in residence.
Ian Reay, Hertfordshire County Council’s Deputy Executive Member for Planning, said: “We are delighted to welcome the first of many British Virgin Islands athletes to Hertfordshire and thank the villagers of Aston for extending such a generous welcome.
“The county has so much to offer world-class athletes in the run up to 2012. Hertfordshire is an ideal place for athletes from around the world to train and only a short distance from London and the Olympic Park. We hope other countries will also sign-up to use our high quality sports facilities.”
The British Virgin Islands' Olympic Committee announced last June that it would use Hertfordshire’s pre-Games training camps in the lead up to London 2012 - making it the first nation to sign with Hertfordshire.
The Secretary General of the British Virgin Islands' Olympic Committee, Dean Greenaway, said at the time: “I have felt so welcome here and seen such great facilities for my athletes to train which together with the warm and friendly welcome from the Aston villagers only confirms my decision that Hertfordshire is the place of choice. Where else could we possibly want to go?"
Last month, Secretary General Alfred Emmanuel, of St Lucia National Olympic Committee (NOC), visited the county’s pre-Games training camps following an invitation from the Hertfordshire is Ready for Winners Partnership.