Fylde Council Leader proposes awarding Freedom of the Borough to Sir Bill Beaumont

Fylde Council Leader, Cllr Karen Buckley, has tabled a proposal to award the Freedom of the Borough to Sir Bill Beaumont GBE DL in recognition of his services to rugby. 

Councillors will discuss the Notice of Motion in the Council meeting next week (February 12).

In the Notice of Motion, Cllr Buckley describes Sir Bill’s achievements on and off the pitch as marking him out for the rare honour, and states: “I ask the Council to recognise the contribution that Sir Bill Beaumont GBE DL has made to services to rugby on an international stage following an illustrious career. As many members will know, Sir Bill played rugby for Fylde, for Lancashire and he became England captain in 1978.

“He led England in 21 of his 34 caps with a particular highlight of his career in 1980 when he led them to their first Grand Slam since 1957. After retiring from rugby he became a well-loved personality in the TV schedules as one of the team captains in the BBC’s “A Question of Sport”.

“Sir Bill Beaumont has not only subsequently driven transformational governance reform in support of world rugby, but he has also driven improvements for player welfare and wellbeing. Sir Bill has also made a great contribution to the local community, and he is involved in many charities both local, national and international. Sir Bill also supports the Lord-Lieutenant in her duties as His Majesty’s representative in Lancashire where he acts as a Deputy Lieutenant at various events throughout the County.

“This exceptional service to rugby was recognised with a Knighthood in 2018, followed by his recent award for the Knight Grand Cross in this New Year’s Honours list. I would like to propose that Fylde Council honours this fine Lancastrian, and Fylde citizen, by conferring on him the Honour of Freedom of the Borough. I ask members to join me in supporting this motion.” 

The Freedom of the Borough is the highest award that a Council can bestow. It is a power that is very rarely used and is normally awarded only to local people or bodies who have, in the opinion of the Council, rendered eminent services to the Borough.

The only individual to have previously received this award from Fylde Council is former Fylde MP Michael Jack CBE in 2010, while The Queen’s Lancashire Regiment and AFC Fylde collectively received the honour in 1990 and 2008 respectively.

The award of the Honorary Freedom of the Borough does not convey with it any legal rights or responsibilities, other than a ceremonial role at civic functions. The award dates to the Middle Ages, when Freemen had commercial privileges and a route into a position of power in a town or city.

The decision on the Notice of Motion will be known following the full Council meeting scheduled for 12 February 2024. Should the motion be passed, a special Council meeting will later be held to formalise the title, after which a civic reception will be arranged to award the honour.

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