by Alex Claridge
On a night of pomp and ceremony, Canterbury awarded the freedom of the city to a trio of distinguished names.
Lord Mayor of Canterbury Cllr Ann Taylor presented the highest award the city can bestow upon Paul Barrett, Amanda Cottrell and Sir Graeme Odgers at the Guildhall on Thursday.
Mr Barrett, the managing director of Barretts and the chairman of business organisation C4B, received his award for a lifetime promoting Canterbury.
He was proposed by Cllr Alex Perkins, who said: “The freedom of the city is our highest reward and those who receive it must have a deserved reputation for advancing the image of Canterbury.
“Paul Barrett qualifies. He genuinely cares about Canterbury and the district and the people who live here and the people who work here.”
Accepting the award from Cllr Taylor, Mr Barrett said: “I was lost for words when I discovered that I would be offered the freedom of the city.
“I have always tried to do my best to champion Canterbury and some of the investment we have had in the city is truly impressive. I am very proud indeed.”
Cllr Darren Ellis proposed Amanda Cottrell.
Mrs Cottrell has enjoyed a wide variety of roles including magistrate, High Sheriff of Kent, trustee of Canterbury Cathedral, deputy Lord Lieutenant of Kent and a patron of Produced in Kent.
She also holds an honorary fellowship of Canterbury Christ Church University and an honorary doctorate of civil law from Kent University.
“Amanda has worked selflessly on behalf of the city and of the county,” Cllr Ellis said. “We are extremely fortunate.”
Mrs Cottrell, who lives in Challock, described the freedom as an “extraordinary honour” which had left her “stunned and speechless”.
Sir Graeme Odgers is a former deputy Lord Lieutenant of Kent and former head of the Monopolies and Mergers Commission.
Sir Graeme Odgers
He was instrumental in securing the funding for the new Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury.
Proposing him for the freedom of Canterbury, council leader Cllr John Gilbey said: “Sir Graeme is known for his calmness and his determination.
“He is a man of upstanding and outstanding reputation and has contributed to this city hugely through the Marlowe.”
Sir Graeme, who lives in Tonbridge, said: “This period in my life working within this great city has been as satisfying as any other part of my life.
“Receiving the freedom of this great city is the icing on the cake. I am thrilled. Thank you very much.”
After the meeting, councillors, freemen and guests repaired to the Beaney for a reception.