Honorary Freeman

The award of Honorary Freeman is one of the most prestigious awards which a council can bestow upon a valued member of the community, or upon a visiting celebrity or dignitary.

It arises from the medieval practice of granting respected citizens freedom from serfdom.

Although the title of 'freeman' confers no special privileges it is without a doubt an honor to receive such an award and is a great and lasting tribute to a person held in high regard.

Houghton Regis Town Council was delighted to have made the first ever award of Honorary Freeman of Houghton Regis. The award was presented to the Late Robin Hines on behalf of the Town Council by the, Town Mayor of 2017-18 (Ms J Hillyard) on 23rd November 2017. Over 25 people attended the awards presentation at which many personal and notable commendations were made to the Late Mr Hines for his tireless work within the community.

The award was made to the late Mr Hines as the council considered that he had served his community for many years in many ways, from officially serving as a councillor to informally helping his neighbours.

The late Mr Hines first joined the Town Council in 1995 and served for four years. He then came back on to the Council in 2007 and served as till his passing in January 2018. He was elected as Town Mayor in May 2010 and he raised over £3,000 for Keech Hospice, Hospice at Home Volunteers and Help for Heroes.

The late Mr Hines was thanked by the Town Mayor on behalf of the Town Council and the community at large for the highly valued and significant contribution made to the town of Houghton Regis and was presented with a framed scroll in recognition of the award.

In 2018 the council were delighted and honoured to bestow upon Mrs Beryl Morton the prestigious award of Honorary Freeman at the Pride of Houghton Awards Ceremony on 13th October 2018.

Although Mrs Morton was unable to attend in person the Town Mayor Mr K Wattingham (2018-19) made the following speech:

“As a community I believe that we work best when we support each other and collectively work for the benefit of all. This award is made in this spirit to a truly wonderful and remarkable lady. She is a very well-known character in Houghton Regis, always smiling, supporting and encouraging, and tirelessly working for us all.

The Honorary Freeman award is not conferred lightly. Any recipient has to have made a long term and lasting contribution to the town. This lady’s contribution has indeed been both long and conspicuous.

In the 1970’s she was best known as a local breeder of miniature poodles and was frequently seen cycling around town sporting war-time fashion nylons, gloves and a feather in her hat.

However she truly came to have a high profile in the Town as a leading light in the Horticultural Society. As a successful organiser, her annual shows in the Memorial Hall were famous, as was her garage where produce was sold and exchanged.

In addition her association with All Saints Church has and remains very important to her, indeed upon retirement she became the parish administrator for the church. During which time she enjoyed the parish pilgrimages to the Middle East. Part of her role within the church was to organise the flower arranging at All Saints, bringing life and colour to what was then a building in a sorry state. The flower shows brought a wide range of people to both the church and the town, and their praise for such a high-quality display was always noted.

Of particular note was her tireless work to fundraise for the church. As already mentioned the church was falling into disrepair, the church building leaked and flooded and fireworks had caused damage to the school and main building. This remarkable lady and a team of other willing volunteers worked tirelessly to raise funds to rebuild the Tower. Thankfully they raised enough and there it stands today, at the very heart of our Town.

Throughout her association with the church her soprano voice has lent quality and dignity to one of the best choirs around. She has rarely missed a rehearsal or service.

Over and above she had a real affection for the Town and this has shone through in all she has partaken in. She has never heard a negative about the Town without burying it in positives. She believes in Houghton and all that it stands for.

We do not confer the Freedom of the Town lightly. It is not simply Mrs Beryl Morton’s past voluntary efforts that we acknowledge, albeit that they are worthy, but also her spirit which has and will remain unconquerable and her positivity about the Town in which she lives.
On behalf of the Town Council and all our residents it was with great delight in presenting, Mrs Morton, Honorary Freeman of Houghton Regis 2018.

Mrs Morton was presented with a framed certificate and a beautiful arrangement of flowers.

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