HARTLEPOOL Borough Council has granted historic honours to 13 individuals and one organisation for service to the town at a special ceremony.
The Honorary Freeman/Freewoman title is the highest honour that a council can bestow and in the last 40 years it has only been awarded on 18 occasions in Hartlepool.
At a meeting of the full council, held at the Civic Centre, Freedom of Borough accolades were awarded to:
David Gibson – musical director of Hartlepool Male Voice Choir, who was nominated for contribution to music in the town.
Keith Hewitson – The current treasurer of Hartlepool Sports Council who has served the organisation for more than 40 years.
Dr George Morris - The former Hartlepool College of Further Education Principal who was nominated for his role in starting the transformation of the college.
Sir Ron Norman OBE - The former chairman of Teesside Development Corporation who was nominated for his work in developing Hartlepool Marina.
Elizabeth O’Rourke - The chief administrator of Hartlepool Blind Welfare Association who has worked for the organisation for 52 years.
The Rifles – The regiment which has origins dating back to 1758 has strong links with Hartlepool.
Jim Rodgers - The secretary of Hartlepool Sports Council who has dedicated over 40 years of his life to the organisation.
Meanwhile, Honorary Alderman titles for service to Hartlepool Borough Council went to three former members.
Russell Hart – the former council leader served as a councillor for 13 years.
Dennis Waller – A councillor for 26 years until he retired in 2007.
Brian Smith - Mayor of Hartlepool in 1993, retired after serving 22 years as a councillor.
At the ceremony, the council acknowledged the granting of the title of Honorary Alderman bestowed upon long-serving councillor and former Mayor Ray Waller which was agreed at a previous council meeting.
Posthumous Award of Honorary Alderwoman went to:
Gwynneth Hanson - Former Mayor of Hartlepool in 1994, Served as a councillor for 20 years.
Cath Hill - Served as a councillor for 19 years and was a former children’s services cabinet member.
Gladys Worthy – Former Mayor who served as a councillor for 31 years.
Speaking at the ceremony, Sir Ron Norman, OBE said: “It is difficult to put into words what this means to me.
“I am so proud and pleased to receive this honour and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
David Gibson said: “I would like to thank councillors for this great honour; it humbles me very much. I would also like to thank my family and the many people I have worked with over the years.”
Jim Rodgers, also spoke on behalf of fellow Hartlepool Sports Council member Keith Hewitson and added: “We are both highly delighted to receive our awards.
“When you go into voluntary work you don’t expect to receive accolades but on behalf of us both I would like to thank you for this honour.”
Hartlepool’s ceremonial mayor, Labour councillor Stephen Akers-Belcher, chaired the proceedings and presented the awards.
Coun Akers-Belcher said: “I would like to congratulate you all on what you have achieved for Hartlepool.
“You have all served the town with great pride and tonight’s honours are richly deserved.”