Redhill Lioness honoured with Freewoman of Borough

England footballer Millie Bright says she is “grateful” to be given an honorary title of freewoman of the Surrey borough she calls home.

Reigate and Banstead Borough Council awarded Ms Bright, who lives in Redhill, Honorary Freewoman of the Borough recognising her achievements and her “inspirational role model qualities”.

The defender was the Lionesses’ 2023 Women’s World Cup captain and was appointed an OBE in the New Years Honours.

Ms Bright, 30, signed for Chelsea in 2014, having started her professional career with Doncaster Rovers Belles.

She captained the Lionesses in Australia and New Zealand, where England lost in the final to Spain.

Ms Bright said: “I’m really grateful to be awarded with this great accolade. A place that has become my home, I’m proud of this community and how the people take care of one another.

“The response I got after the Euros was something I never imagined and the continued support is really special, so I’m very honoured, thank you.”

Proposing her for the honour, Councillor Rich Michalowski said he’d heard from clubs in the borough about a “huge upsurge” in interest in women’s football, particularly among younger players.

He added: “There’s no doubt that the huge increase in interest in the game from girls and women is in no small part because of role models like Millie.”

Mr Michalowski said she should be recognised “as a reflection of her achievements as well as her inspirational role model qualities”.

The council said the award is “purely a mark of honour for the recipient”.

Ms Bright was confirmed with the honour on Thursday along with Colin Sutherland, who was recognised for his work with local charities for more than 30 years.

It has only awarded on three previous occasions.

A ceremony will follow in due course.