John flies high as Ely’s first Honorary Freeman

PUBLISHED: 11:23 19 April 2007 | UPDATED: 13:56 04 May 2010

John Grant receiving his award from Ely mayor John Ison.
Photo: RICHARD MARSHAM

John Grant receiving his award from Ely mayor John Ison. Photo: RICHARD MARSHAM

A FORMER RAF wing commander became the first recipient of a new award to recognise outstanding individual contributions to the city of Ely. John Grant, 89, was named Ely s first Honorary Freeman at Ely City Council s annual parish meeting on Monday night.

A FORMER RAF wing commander became the first recipient of a new award to recognise outstanding individual contributions to the city of Ely.

John Grant, 89, was named Ely's first Honorary Freeman at Ely City Council's annual parish meeting on Monday night.

Mr Grant, originally from Fife, Scotland, moved to Ely 36 years ago for a very active retirement.

He was the chairman of Ely and District Horticultural Society, vice president of the Ely branch of the Royal Air Forces Association, and was president and is now vice president of the Ely branch of the British Legion.

Mr Grant also looked after a war memorial in Market Place for more than 30 years, created and cared for a memorial garden for deceased RAF personnel at the Princess of Wales Hospital.

He said: "I was very surprised when I heard I had been nominated and I'm extremely proud. I've always just loved living in Ely, it's a wonderful city and I'm just glad to do what I can."

Former air forces captain Tom Rogerson, nominated Mr Grant for the title.

He said: "John is very, very worthy of this fantastic new award. He's basically dedicated his retirement to Ely and done so much to benefit the city. The room was packed and there was a very long round of applause. He should be extremely proud."

To become an Honorary Freeman of Ely, a person must have been born in the city, lived there for at least 25 years, or given positive national or international attention to it. A candidate must be nominated by at least two people, before it is put to a city council vote; the council voted unanimously for Mr Grant to be the first recipient.

Two organisations, the Princess of Wales Hospital and the Cambridgeshire Regiment, have been given the freedom of Ely.

Mayor of Ely John Ison said: "All on the council agreed that this is a tremendous way to recognise an individual's outstanding contribution to Ely. Mr Grant is now given honorary freedom of the city. While there no specific rights that this gives him, it is a very prestigious title and an excellent way of recognising a person's dedication to the city.

"Any member of the public can be nominated to become an Honorary Freeman, and we hope there will be many more in the future.

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