Ex-mayor given top City hon­our for char­ity work

Civic leader recog­nised for life­time achieve­ment in good causes

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Night Lights - By Vicky Castle

A for­mer Ash­ford Mayor joins the ranks of Florence Nightin­gale and Nel­son Man­dela as a pres­ti­gious Free­man of the City of Lon­don.

Michael Claughton, also pre­vi­ously deputy leader of Ash­ford Bor­ough Coun­cil, a vice-pres­i­dent of the Find a Voice char­ity and chair­man of the Ash­ford Ac­cess Group, has been awarded the distin­guished ti­tle.

The Honorary Free­dom is the high­est hon­our the City of Lon­don can be­stow and is a recog­ni­tion of life­time achieve­ment.

Af­ter be­ing nom­i­nated by coun­cil leader Gerry Clark­son, Mr Claughton, his wife Daphne, son Tom and sis­ter He­len West trav­elled to The Guild­hall, in Lon­don, to col­lect his cer­tifi­cate.

Mr Claughton said: “It was an amaz­ing ex­pe­ri­ence to see all the pic­tures of peo­ple that my name is now brack­eted with.

“It is such an hon­our to even have your name put for­ward.

“I knew I was go­ing to be nom­i­nated but I did not ex­pect to actu- ally re­ceive it.

“I’ve been around a long time and do a fair bit of work with char­i­ties and I have been try­ing to put back some­thing to the com­mu­nity in my coun­cil role for more than 22 years!”

The grant­ing of the Free­dom of the City of Lon­don is one of the old­est sur­viv­ing tra­di­tional cer­e­monies, first granted to King Charles II in 1674.

The me­dieval term ‘free­man’ meant some­one who en­joyed priv­i­leges out­side the con­trol of a feu­dal lord, so as it stands to­day it comes with an un­usual perk.

Mr Claughton joked: “I can now drive my flock of sheep over Lon­don Bridge, so that’s my life­time am­bi­tion ful­filled.

“I just need a flock of sheep. But hon­estly, it is a great hon­our and I am hugely proud.”

Michael Claughton, wife Daphne, son Tom and sis­ter He­len West in Lon­don for his award of Free­man of Lon­don

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