David Weatherley, who retired earlier this year, was given the award at a special ceremony at Tamworth Castle. The event was attended by David’s family and friends, along with councillors past and present.
Upon receiving the award, David thanked the Mayor for the honour and his family and friends for their support, commenting, “It is a great privilege to receive the honorary Freedom of the Borough. I am not sure I deserve this accolade but I am pleased to receive it and am now among esteemed company of other freemen.
“Tamworth has changed a great deal since I came here and there is much to celebrate. I look forward to seeing the town enjoying more successes in the future and residents being proud of where they live.”
David had served the borough in his role as chief executive for 11 years and began work with the authority in 1986.
Playing tribute to the former chief executive, Mayor of Tamworth, Cllr Jeremy Oates, said, “There are not many occasions when the council gets to bestow the Freedom of the Borough to anyone, in fact there have been relatively few during the last 60 years. This one is very personal to me as David was the chief executive both when I was first elected onto the council and also when I served the borough as leader. It was an honour to work with David and I would like to thank him for all the support he gave me.”
The Leader of the Council, Cllr Daniel Cook, also praised David’s contribution to Tamworth, “It is a great pleasure to see David receive this accolade as he went above and beyond the call of duty. I believe it is due to his hard work and dedication that the council is currently in a financially stable position, mainly due to the visionary way he worked to change how the authority delivers its services to the people of this town.”
The decision to grant David the honour was voted for unanimously in the council chamber in March this year.
Cllr Peter Seekings, former Leader of the Council, also spoke at the event, “I worked closely with David for four years when I was leader of the council, and he was always consistent and fair. He was an ambassador for this town and worked tirelessly to defend our town against unfair criticism.”
Cllr Seekings seconded the motion to award David the Freedom of the Borough earlier this year. At the time, he was Leader of the Labour group.
David is the ninth individual to receive the Freedom of the Borough since its introduction in the 1950s. The Freedom is the highest tribute that a borough can bestow on a person, and while in modern times it is only a ceremonial honour, freemen are invited to take part in all-important civic occasions in the borough.
Traditionally freemen can enjoy special rights and in Tamworth’s case, it includes the right of pasture in the Castle Grounds. When a regiment is awarded the Freedom of the Borough, tradition allows the military unit to parade in the town with fixed bayonets, regimental band and colours flying.
Roll of honorary freeman:
1951: Frederick George Allton – outstanding service to the borough over a period of 50 years. During which time he served as a member of the borough council for 40 years, Alderman for 17 years and Mayor in 1913.
1955: George Henry Jones – councillor and alderman for 35 years. Served as Mayor in 1932 – 1933 and supported projects for the benefit of Tamworth and residents.
1959: Henry Wood – valuable services as town clerk for 30 years and safeguarding the town’s history and heritage.
1977: Philip Dix – recognition of his services to the community as a member of the council since 1958, leader of the council 1967 – 1977 and as Mayor in 1963.
1983: Hubert Brian Leake – services to the community as an officer, town clerk and chief executive and a valuable contribution to the future success and prosperity of the borough.
2007: Ron Cook – in recognition of his valuable services a councillor for 32 years, including Leader of the Council and mayor in 1977. He also instigated the twinning agreement with Bad Laasphe in 1980.
2009: Alec Benwell – recognition of services to the borough as mayor’s sergeant and civic officer for 26 years and offering dedication and support in every aspect of mayoral and civic life.
2009: Terry Dix – services to the borough as a councillor from 1967 to 1892, Mayor in 1980 – 1981 and county councillor between 1981 and 2009.