On Monday a special event took place in the Uniting Church Whaley Bridge. The event was to confer the honour of Freeman of the Borough of High Peak upon former Whaley Bridge (Borough) Councillor John Pritchard.
The Freedom of the Borough is the highest award that the Council can bestow.
It is a power that is rarely used and is normally only awarded to local people who have in the opinion of the Council, rendered eminent services to the Borough.
The award of the Honorary Freedom of the Borough does not convey with it any legal rights or responsibilities, other than a ceremonial role at civic functions. The award dates back to the middle ages when Freemen had commercial privileges and a route into a position of power in a town or city.
John first moved to the town in 1967 and was elected to Whaley Bridge Urban District Council in 1971 before becoming a Borough Councillor in 1976.
He served on the Borough, from 1976, until 2019. During that time, he held a range of roles on the Council including:
· Chair of the Environmental Services Committee 1983-1987
· Mayor 1989-1990
· Executive Member for Community and Social Development 2003-2007
· Chair of the Audit and Regulatory Committee 2007-2017
In addition to serving on the Borough, John has continued as a town councillor, a post he still remains in.
John has also been chair of the town Council on several occasions and was made an Honorary Townsman of Whaley Bridge for his dedicated service back in 1997!
In addition to his service on the Council, John has also been heavily involved with a range of other organisations.
He established the Friends of Whaley Bridge Station Group in 2006, and the group won First prize in the National Community Rail Awards in 2007 in the Best Station Adoption Group category.
John is an Oxford University graduate in Mathematics and spent much of his working life at the National Computing Centre, he is the author of many technical books.
John has a grown-up son and daughter, and he also completed 53 marathons and was kept on track by his wife Barbara who also served as Mayoress.
Although we awarded John with the status of Freeman back in 2019, it’s taken until now with recent events to make the formal award.
I was grateful to speak along with the Mayor and Cllr David Lomax in supporting the award of John being made a freeman.
John has been an exemplary public servant to both the people of Whaley Bridge and the High Peak, and his wisdom, experience and dedication have been much valued.
On a personal note, I was grateful for his advice and wisdom on the right way to go about serving the community.
As Mayor Cllr Ollie Cross said, “He is a shining example for those who hold public office to aspire to.”
Thank you to all involved in putting together the arrangements for the event, which as it rightly should have done had a great attendance of local people.
Thanks to Shirley of Lifetime Images for the photos.