Formula One world champion Jenson Button was cheered by thousands of fans as he was given the freedom of his hometown – where a footbridge is to be named after him.
Button, 30, was awarded the accolades by councillors in Frome, Somerset, in recognition of being crowned World Champion last year.
The ‘Jenson Button Bridge’ is currently under construction and due to be completed late summer.
But 1,000 fans turned out to pay tribute to the F1 star yesterday in the town where Button grew up and attended school before becoming an international superstar.
Frome Mayor Damon Hooton presented the honour yesterday in the Cattle Market car park by the Cheese and Grain building.
He said: ”It is my great and proud honour to award Jenson Button with the Freedom of Frome.
”We have awarded this honour to Jenson for enhancing the reputation of both Frome and the UK.
”Jenson is special for many reasons and he is the first to receive this honour.
”This is the highest award the council can bestow and looking at all of you here today it seems we’re not the only ones who think Jenson is special.”
Button, who spent the morning visiting schools he attended in his childhood, said: ”I feel very privileged to be here today to receive this honour. It means a lot to me.
”I’m very patriotic and think a lot about my country and where I come from because it’s made me into the person I am today.”
Standing next to a replica of last year’s F1 car, Button discussed the ”electric atmosphere” at Silverstone race track and joked of his ”healthy rivalry” with teammate Louis Hamilton.
Addressing the crowd, who loyally waved Union flags and Braun pennants at the racing superstar, he added: ”Thank you for all your support. It’s very important me.
”It’s a long time since I’ve been back to Frome but it really does still feel like home.”
Button was appointed MBE in the New Year’s Honours list after he claimed his maiden world title with the Brawn GP team.
The victory marked a remarkable turnaround for the one-time playboy who, less two years ago, looked to be heading for the F1 wilderness.
Button, who drove 113 Grand Prix before winning one in 2006, was left high and dry when it was announced Honda Racing was up for sale in December 2008.
But he powered to victory in a dramatic last race last year and currently sits at the top of the drivers board after victory in China last month.
Fan Ruby Wiles, 76, waited four hours to meet her ”hero” so he could sign her copy of his book ‘My Championship year’.
Retired cleaner Ruby, of Westbury, Wilts., said: ”I’ve always followed Jenson and I’m really proud of what he’s done for the UK.
”I first became a fan when he lived near me and ever since then I’ve followed his progress.
”It was amazing to meet him today and it was really nice of him to sign my book.”