WELL-KNOWN Wisbech dignitary Richard Barnwell is to be awarded the Freedom of the Town, an honour bestowed on just a handful of people.
Wisbech Town councillors voted unanimously to offer former Mayor Mr Barnwell the historic honour.
“This is something I never imagined would happen to me,” Mr Barnwell told the Citizen. “I am extremely honoured to be considered and even more to discover they have decided to do it.”
Mr Barnwell is only the third person since the Millennium to receive the Freedom of the Town.
He himself presented the title to former Olympian and Wisbech businessman James Crowden during his time as Mayor.
Paralympian Jody Cundy received the Freedom of the Town last year for his success in swimming and cycling and his contribution to sport.
Mr Barnwell has been a familiar face around the town for many years and has an association with many local groups as well as being a generous benefactor.
He was Mayor of Wisbech in 2000 and presented the Millennium link that now has pride of place in the centre of the Mayoral chain. He was also a county councillor.
Erbie Murat from Wisbech Town Council said Mr Barnwell is the epitome of what the Freedom of the Town stands for.
“The Freedom of the Town is given to people or organisations who have given exceptional service to the town,” Mr Murat said. “We are giving this to Mr Barnwell for his extensive and exceptional contribution to Wisbech.”
Mr Barnwell was chairman of the Wisbech Society, Wisbech Tourism Group, Wisbech Regeneration Partnership and East of England Agricultural Society, among others.
He has been on around 15 different committees in the town, including chair of the Wisbech and Fenland Museum and one of the founders of the Octavia Hill’s Birthplace Museum. He was also president of Wisbech Rotary.
Last year, Mr Barnwell was High Sheriff of Cambridgeshire and now holds the title of Deputy Lord Lieutenant.
He presented the Armed Forces Day badges to veterans at March’s St Peter’s Church on Friday and said what a great honour it was for him.
Mr Barnwell has lived and worked in Wisbech his entire working life. He has been an auctioneer for the past 35 years and owns Clifford Cross Auctioneers in Chase Street.
A town council meeting will be held in the autumn to arrange for an illuminated scroll to be ordered. The ceremony to present the scroll will be arranged at a later date.