Freedom of City for councillor and Wells RBL, and civic award-winners are named
LONG-SERVING city councillor Norman Kennedy and the Wells Branch Royal British Legion are to be given the Honorary Freedom of the City.
The honours will be officially bestowed at a Ceremonial Evening in Wells Town Hall on December 4, when the first winners of the City of Wells Civic Awards will also be presented with their trophies.
Norman Kennedy has been a city councillor for 40 years, and has twice been mayor. He has also served as a district councillor, was a magistrate in Wells, and was the first chairman of the literature festival.
When told that he was going to be given the Freedom of the City award, he said: “I was amazed, I had a tear in my eye.
“I’d never given it a thought, it hadn’t crossed my mind. I’m so grateful, and quite proud.”
He worked for EMI when he moved in 1978 from Liverpool to Wells, where he was joined by his wife Carol and two sons. Carol worked at Cow & Gate and in a number of High Street shops.
Norman said that he did not set out to be a councillor, and had no idea of doing anything like that, “it just happened”.
He will be 82 in December, and has had health issues, including stomach cancer, but says that he will continue as a councillor for as long as the electors vote him in.
He added: “I couldn’t do it without Carol.”
The Wells Branch of the British Legion – as it was then – was formed at the end of July 1921 only two months after the Legion came into being nationally.
Jim Parfitt of the Wells Branch said that the organisation felt great pride when it was informed that Wells City Council was going to grant it the “great privilege” of receiving the Freedom of the City award.
“This award in our 100th year is like the icing on the cake for us,” he said.
“The whole committee does an amazing job from our young chairman Aaron Cooper-Collett and wife Becky, our secretary – they work as a well-oiled machine. We have two members looking after the welfare of both members and veterans, they do an amazing job. Not forgetting our Poppy Appeal organiser Derek Cooper who works tirelessly for the Poppy Appeal, and all his helpers. We have a mixture of members who served in the Forces and quite a few who just want to help the branch remember all those who went before us and gave the ultimate sacrifice.
“So we say thank you to the city council for this great honour, joining the elite people whose names over many years are on the board for all to see in the Town Hall.
“Our scroll will be hung up at The Venue, home of the Wells Royal British Legion branch. Many years ago the Wells British Legion club was sold, but it’s so nice to be back again. Thanks to Tony and Sylvia Robbins for welcoming us back into The Venue.”
Derek Cooper has been named winner of the City of Wells Citizen of the Year Award, for years of outstanding voluntary services to the city. Runners up are Ross Young, for his continued support in the tourism sector, and Georgie Robbins, for providing meals and services during lockdown.
The other City of Wells Civic Awards winners are:
City of Wells Youth Award. Winner: James Peters, for his service to St John Ambulance.
City of Wells Business of the Year Award. Winner: Daniels Cafe, for their volunteering during lockdown and free meals scheme. Runners up: Andres Kitchen and Queen Street Deli, for their services to the city during lockdown.
City of Wells Community Award. Winner: Wells Coronavirus Network, for their continued support to those most vulnerable within the city.
City of Wells Sustainability Award. Winner: Sustainable Wells, for campaigning and raising awareness of the environmental crisis.
City of Wells ‘Extra Mile’ Award. Winner: Sasha and Trina Kenniston, for their services to the community including sourcing supplies for those in need and reuniting lost pets with their owners. Runners up: Richard Jones, for his work on the Strawberry Line; Len Sweales, for his services as Town Crier.
The council has thanked the awards sponsors: Harris & Harris, Probusiness, Wells Voice, Cooper & Tanner, Charlie Bigham’s and Peppers Catering.
It has also thanked all citizens of Wells who submitted nominations.