Five Hartlepool heroes granted Freedom of the Borough

Five Hartlepool heroes have been honoured for their sustained and significant contributions to the town by being granted the Freedom of the Borough.

Friday, 10th September 2021, 6:32 pm
The Lord Lieutenant of County Durham Sue Snowdon, left, and The Ceremonial Mayor of Hartlepool Councillor, Brenda Loynes, with her consort, Dennis, second right, and the Freedom of The Borough recipients, left to right, Geraldine Chapman, who received the award on behalf of late husband Alan, Lesley Gibson, Sian Cameron, Ray Martin-Wells and Chris Musgrave. Picture by FRANK REID.

The title of Honorary Freeman or Freewoman of the Borough of Hartlepool is the highest honour the council can bestow and was granted to five individuals at a special ceremony on Thursday evening.

The first honour granted at the Borough Hall ceremony was to Alan Chapman, long serving headteacher at Catcote Academy, which was conferred posthumously after he passed away aged 67 in October 2019 after a short illness.

Mr Chapman was chief executive of Hartlepool Aspire Trust, which runs Catcote Academy, Catcote Futures and Catcote Sixth Form.

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The Ceremonial Mayor of Hartlepool Councillor Brenda Loynes, with Sian Cameron.

The award was received by his wife, Geraldine, who thanked councillors, adding Alan would be “extraordinarily humbled” to receive it.

She said: “It was through the opportunities that arose at Catcote that he was encouraged to take that Alan found his true vocation.

“As he often said, it’s all for the bairns.

“Alan was a quiet and outwardly unassuming man who only ever thought about the best he could do for SEN [special educational needs] pupils.”

Geraldine Chapman received the Freedom of the Borough award on behalf of her late husband, Alan, at a special meeting of the council held at the Borough Hall, Headland. Picture by FRANK REID

Cllr Shane Moore and Cllr Brenda Harrison both paid emotional tributes to Mr Chapman, with Cllr Jim Lindridge adding he is “an absolute legend”.

The award was also granted to Sian Cameron, who has helped raise tens of thousands of pounds as Poppy Appeal organiser for Hartlepool, after taking over from her father, Ian, who passed away in 2010.

She said: “I’m absolutely thrilled to be collecting this, it would have meant the world to my dad.

“I’ve loved every single minute of Poppy Appeal, it’s a delight, it brings out the best in everybody, you meet some amazing people, and you’re doing good.”

Lesley Gibson with her Freedom of the Borough award.

It was next granted to Lesley Gibson, the chief executive of Harbour, for more than 30 years of work with the organisation in providing assistance to families and individuals affected by domestic abuse.

She said: “I honestly believe that when I started doing this work, I wanted it to be the best service for Hartlepool, it’s so important to me.

“For me, I think everything I’ve ever strove for, I’ve always been about providing services for people.

“I really honestly believe that we’re one of the most caring towns.”

The late Alan Chapman. Picture by FRANK REID

Ray Martin-Wells, who stood down as a councillor in 2018, was also honoured for his work as chair of the audit of the governance committee and supporting maintaining maternity and fertility services for Hartlepool.

He said: “This award humbles me.

“It has been an honour to serve my town and at times speak for those who didn’t have a voice against the influential organisations attempting to make decisions that affect the day to day lives of the people of our wonderful town.”

Finally, the honour was granted to Chris Musgrave, who was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in The Queen’s 2019 Birthday Honours for services to business and the community.

Mr Musgrave said: “Wherever I go I’m always proud to say I’m from Hartlepool.

“Hartlepool is a special place to me and it always will be, I think the town is on the up and I’m going to help in any way I can to put the town on the map.”

Chris Musgrave with his award.
Ray Martin-Wells who received the Freedom of the Borough award at a special meeting of the council held at the Borough Hall, Headland. Picture by FRANK REID.