Double Olympic Gold medallist Tom James is due to be honoured by Wrexham this time next week by becoming the first individual to receive the “Freedom Of The County Borough of Wrexham” for 34 years.
Yesterday Wrexham.com along with other members of the press were summoned to a special top-secret briefing at the Guildhall to hear Council Leader Neil Rogers announce the plan. He said “This will be a special day in the history of Wrexham. Its a celebration for Wrexham, for the people of Wrexham and its three Olympians”.
Tom James will get special recognition due to his feat of winning two golds in consecutive Olympics – Beijing in 2008 and London this year. Chris Bartley and Vicky Thornley will also be recognised at the event. There will also be a vote of thanks to TeamGB and the Paralympic Team GB.
The council is branding it as a WOW event with WOW standing for Wrexhams Olympic Winners. On Friday the 28th a big screen will be set up on Llwyn Isaf outside the Library, where a special council meeting will be relayed to the public outside.
We checked with the council and it was confirmed a little bit of history will be made in terms of the broadcast, as it will be the first time that a live broadcast of a council meeting will take place. This is however a one off for the event!
Much like when the Olympic torch came to town this is being billed as a family event for all, with the council taking steps to help out. This will take the form of free carparking from 3:45pm on the Friday in all council run town centre car parks. Its worth noting this does NOT mean Eagles Meadow, Island Green as they are privately run. Further to this the council are not inviting any food sales to the event, with the hope that as the event ends around 6:30pm then people will go into town to eat & drink.
The Olympains themselves, plus their families have been invited to the event plus ‘dignitaries’ of Wrexham. The format of the event will be a guard of honour as the Olympians enter the Guildhall, with speeches and presentation inside the chamber itself. Following this there will be an appearance on the balcony of the Guildhall overlooking the library field. There will be added entertainment provided by the council, all free, so parents do not have to pay a penny.
Tom James, MBE, said “All of this has happened so quickly in such a short space of time. I think it is going to take a while for everything to sink in and to appreciate exactly what it means. I’m very grateful and I feel really lucky and privileged to have been given Freedom of the Borough. To be honoured in this way is pretty special and I am grateful to everyone involved. I’m looking forward to the celebration and it will be great to experience it with my friends and family here in Wrexham too. This event feels extra special because it is one of the final Olympic celebration events and it will cap off what has been a whirlwind past few months.”
The council believes that the Freedom of the County Borough brings with it no special privileges, with Cllr Rogers stating that he doesn’t think there are any sheep herding rights. If any Wrexham.com readers know otherwise please do get in touch!
The Freedom of the County Borough is the highest award any council can bestow on an individual, group or organisation. Tom becomes the 30th recipient of the award which dates back to 1906 when it was first awarded to Thomas Bury. Other recipients include David Lloyd George, 1923 and Prof Arthur Herbert Dodd in 1963.
The last time the Honour was granted in Wrexham to an individual from Wrexham was in 1978 when it was awarded to Trevor Lloyd Williams, from Chirk, who was the first Chief Executive Officer of Wrexham Borough Council founded in 1974. He had previously served as Clerk to Wrexham Rural District Council since 1951. The last time it was awarded was in 2008 when it was awarded to the newly formed Royal Welsh. Past recipients include North Wales Police in 1978 and Arthur Herbert Dodd, 1963.
Full List of Previous Recipients:
(Information taken from the Encyclopaedia of Wrexham, W Alister Williams)
- Thomas Bury 1906
- Alderman W E Samuel JP 8.11.1911
- Rt Hon David Lloyd George, OM, MP, PC, DCL, 10.08.1923
- Ex Alderman Ralph Williamson, JP, 19.9.1923
- Thomas Jones JP, 19.09.1923
- Alderman William J Williams, JP, 10.06.1931
- Alderman Edward Hughes, MBE, JP, 10.06.31
- Alderman Sydney Gardner Jarman, JP, 10.06.1931
- Alderman Robert Sauvage, JP, 10.06.1931
- Alderman Dr Samuel Edwards-Jones, JP, 10.06.1931
- Alderman Christopher “Cris” Davies, JP, 26.03.1935
- Walter Roberts, JP, 20.10.1937
- Alderman William Aston, CBE, 27.09.1944
- Royal Welch Fusiliers, 15.06.1946
- Past Alderman Horace Blew, 09.11.1948
- Alderman W. Emyr williams, Ll.B, 28.03.1951
- Alderman Cyril Oswald Jones, LIB, BA, 28.03.1951
- Alderman William Dodman, 28.03.1951
- George G Lerry, MBE, 28.03.1951
- Alderman Herbert Hampson, JP, 09.10.1957
- Alderman John Davies, 09.10.1957
- Joseph Parton, JP, 09.10.1957
- Prof Arthur Herbert Dodd, MA, 11,11.1963
- Professor the Rev. Charles Harold Dodd, CH, DD, 11.11.1963
- Philip John Walters, MBE, 01.05.1970
- Trevor Lloyd Williams, OBE, 05.04.1978
- North Wales Police, 15.07.1978
- Royal Welch Fusiliers, 17.09.1983
- Royal Welsh, 06.09.2008
- …..Tom James MBE !
We will be down on Llwyn Isaf for the event that starts just before 5pm, and would urge people to share the details of this historic event with friends and family as it is quite a rare event in itself let alone rounding off the 2012 Olympics!
(This news has been published first by Wrexham.com spot on the embargo release time due to its ‘top secret’ nature, despite one news agency slipping the secret out for 8 minutes via twitter yesterday until we pointed it out to the council!)