The creator of Grange Hill, Brookside and Hollyoaks was back in the spotlight this month, as well as supporting his wife, Alexis, in her role as High Sheriff of Cheshire Cheshire Life: December 2018
Avery special month this one, as I stepped from behind the High Sheriff of Cheshire to receive the Freedom of the City of Liverpool. It was an amazing feeling to receive this honour, the highest a city can bestow.
When asked to choose a date, one immediately came to mind. November 2nd. It was on that date, 36 years ago that Brookside was first transmitted and Britain’s cardiac arrest rate among soap watchers went through the roof. Having decided the date, I then had to decide on a venue. Instead of going to the Town Hall or other civic building, I opted for a place that had featured often in my career, the Merseyside Maritime Museum.
It was there that I held many a board meeting during my term as Chair of National Museums Liverpool, but more than that, it was where the city allowed me to host a welcoming reception for Channel 4 back in 1982. That too was a special occasion as the museum was still being fitted out, not yet open to the public but was the first tangible sign of the Albert Dock’s revival. Another connection was the Queen. I was present when she opened the museum as the keystone attraction in the Albert Dock and in 2011 I welcomed her back to open the Museum of Liverpool, a short walk from the Maritime, and then the latest symbol of the regeneration of the iconic waterfront. In 2012, I was again privileged to host Her Majesty at the Maritime Museum, where she chose to finish her North West jubilee tour.and the Albert Dock was where I came out with that now famous line about Liverpool’s time as European Capital of Culture being just like a great scouse wedding.
The Freedom civic ceremony was an incredible moment and I was truly moved by the speeches, kind comments and the number of old friends and colleagues who turned out in support. You never achieve much in life without the support of others.
However, it was soon back to handbag carrying duties at the Legal Service at Chester Cathedral, during which our long-standing friend Bishop James Jones gave the sermon.
Also this month: the HS opened Tarporley Primary’s new building; attended the 50th anniversary of Upton-by-chester High; the dedication of the new War Memorial in Knutsford; visited two thought provoking art exhibitions by prisoners and victims of abuse; enjoyed the Cheshire Business Awards; got me to speak at the Uniformed Youth Organisations conference at Daresbury Science Park, a treat in itself, as was the dinner for 100 Years of The Women’s Vote hosted by the Mayor of Warrington, Coun Karen Mundry.
Oh, and to the question, what do you get with the Freedom of the City? Just a certificate. The sheep thing is a bit of a myth and as someone said on the night, ‘These days, you get nowt for free.’ But you know what, you do. A very strong and warm glow of pride.
“With the Freedom of the City you get a certificate. The sheep thing is a bit of a myth”