Manchester City Council

Freedom at last

The day starts and finishes with Sir Bobby Charlton.

The Council resolved back in December last year to offer Bobby the Freedom of the City and today is the investing ceremony. Being a Freeman of the City doesn't bring any real privileges but it is the highest honour the City can bestow, and it is used very sparingly, Bobby being only the third individual to be honoured in this way in the last 25 years. In the morning Bobby is in the Town Hall for a press call and spends an hour being photographed and interviewed. It's also my first chance of the day to say why Bobby is such a deserving recipient of this honour. It's not just because of his record as a footballer both for Manchester United and England even though that is a record without peer. Over the years Bobby Charlton has been a tireless ambassador for his club and for the city. He helped with our Olympic bids, with the Commonwealth Games, and has regularly helped us promote Manchester all over the world. I've been lucky enough to have been with him on a number of occasions and to witness the impact he has on audiences. He is an embodiment of the values of our city and remains always willing to help us. In the evening it's the formal ceremony in the Council Chamber followed by a Civic Dinner hosted by the Lord Mayor. Footballing legends past, Dennis Law, Jimmy Armfield, Nobby Stiles to name but a few, stars of today, and both Sir Alex Ferguson and Mark Hughes were amongst the guests all there to pay tribute to Sir Bobby. A great day but back to the grindstone tomorrow!

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The blog of the leader of Manchester City Council, Councillor Richard Leese.

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