THE chairman of Visit Kent has become the first woman to be awarded the Freedom of the City of Canterbury Amanda Cottrell OBE was one of three people to be awarded the city’s highest honour at a ceremony on Thursday night. As a freeman of Canterbury she, alongside new inductees Sir Graeme Odgers and Paul Barrett, joining an elite group that includes the Prince of Wales, the Dean of Canterbury Cathedral, the Very Reverend Dr Bob Willis, and Peter Firmm, who co-created The dangers and Bagpuss.
After being made a freeman, a process which involves a council vote, the blowing of the city’s 12th century Burghmote Horn, and reciting a vow promising to “be obedient to the Lord Mayor of this city for the time being” and to report any groups meeting with the intention of disrupting the Queen’s peace to the Lord Mayor, Mrs Cottrell paid tribute to her “extraordinary honour”.
“When I got my letter from the council, I thought it was a parking fme, and put it aside, thinking I had a few days before the charge went up to £60. When I read it, I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t be more proud. I’m gobsmacked; speechless.”
Paul Barrett, a Canterbury man who has raised thousands of pounds with charity cycling and chairs the fund-raising development group of The Marlowe Theatre, paid tribute to his “long-suffering” wife (“her words”). He is best known in the city for owning Barretts, a car showroom that has been operating from the same Canterbury space since 1902. It was opened by Paul’s great- grandfather George Barrett, and one of the people who nominated Paul, Cur Georgina Glover, fondly remembered being given a job at Barretts with her husband 50 years ago. Paul said:
“I’m actually lost for words, and if anyone knows me, you know that is not a common occurrence.”
Sir Graeme Odgers was awarded the freedom of Canterbury despite living in Sandwich, because of his tireless hard work and instrumental business expertise in getting the new Marlowe theatre built. His contribution to the project, especially in the years of the economic crash, led to council leader John Gijbey, who nominated him, to ask “what would we have done without you?”.
In accepting the honour, Sir Graeme said Canterbury was a “great city”, and his work within it, which only began in his sixties,
“has been as satisfying as any other part of my life, and maybe even more so. What a lucky chappie I am. All I can say is, thank you very much.”
The trio of freemen were then presented with caricatures of themselves by East Kent artist David Chishoim.
Herne Bay Times, January 21st 2015