With a shy smile, a wave and a hug for the nurses who helped save her life, Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai finally left the British hospital where she was being treated after being shot by a Taleban gunman.
The 15-year-old was shot in the head after campaigning for women's rights to education in her home country. She is said to have made an excellent recovery after the point-blank assassination attempt but still faces months of recuperation and further reconstructive surgery on her skull.
Her father Ziauddin said Malala was well on the road to recovery. "She is quite well and happy on returning home as we all are," he said.
The teenager has become a powerful symbol in the fight for universal female schooling in Pakistan.
She was seriously injured in the attack in October while travelling on a bus back from school in the Swat Valley in the north of Pakistan where militants accused her of promoting "western thinking".
But walking unaided on Friday, she was discharged by doctors who paid tribute to her strength and bravery.
Dr Dave Rosser, medical director at Birmingham's Queen Elizabeth Hospital where she has received treatment, said the youngster would benefit from being with her parents Ziauddin and Toorpekai and brothers Khushal and Atul at their temporary home in the West Midlands.
"Malala is a strong young woman and has worked hard with the people caring for her to make excellent progress in her recovery," he said.
Her case has been highlighted by celebrities including Madonna and Angelina Jolie, who called for her to be awarded the Nobel peace prize. Candlelit vigils have been held across the world and in Birmingham where she was brought for specialist treatment six days after the shooting.
Malala had an operation in Pakistan to remove the bullet from her skull, but was airlifted to the UK for the care of specialist neurosurgeons.
The bullet entered her skull, grazing her brain. Malala will have reconstruction surgery next month, but until then will continue treatment as an outpatient. There has been heightened security at the hospital following threats by militants.
Malala has been taking home leave since before Christmas. Last month, she was visited by Pakistan's president Asif Ali Zardari. His government promised to pay for her treatment.
Her father, who ran a private school, has been appointed education attache for three years at the Pakistani consulate in Birmingham with the option of an extension for a further two years.