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Royal British Legion branch and former leader recommended for freedom of the city

Freedom of the city could be awarded to Peterborough’s branch of the Royal British Legion and former council leader John Holdich.
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The Royal British Legion has been suggested to receive honorary freedom of the city

A special meeting of the council will be held on July 28 to determine whether to grant honorary freedom of the city to former city council leader John Holdich and the Peterborough branch of the Royal British Legion (RBL). 

The Peterborough RBL was formed on June 27, 1921 and has supported the local armed forces community for 100 years. 

The branch has contributed to four war memorials during its century of operation and through its local poppy appeal has raised millions of pounds to support veterans.

As the custodian of remembrance, Peterborough’s RBL branch is always represented at civic occasions and works hard to honour the soldiers and service animals whose stories are unique to Peterborough. 

Among those remembered are Sergeant Hunter, known as the ‘lonely Anzac’, who died in the area in 1916 after being injured in World War I. He was not born nor did he ever live in Peterborough, but is buried in Broadway cemetery - a long way from his native Australia. 

The branch also remembers the role that animals played during the Great War, with Jimmy the donkey buried in Central Park. Jimmy, a decorated donkey, was born on The Somme. He was retired to Peterborough after the war and was loved by soldiers as well as civilians. 

Werrington First councillor John Fox (Werrington) put forward the motion, which has been seconded by Conservative councillor Mohammed Farooq (Hargate and Hempsted).

The former leader of Peterborough City Council John Holdich has also been recommended for the honour for his service to the city. 

Holdich won his first election to Cambridgeshire County Council in 1977 and remained an elected representative until his retirement in May this year. 

The motion, put forward by Conservative councillor Peter Hiller (Glinton and Castor), celebrates Holdich’s “many career highlights” including his 1996 Order of the British Empire, the £37,000 he raised as Mayor of Peterborough for The Alzheimer’s Society and Arthritis UK and the pride he took in his work with young people and those with disabilities.

The delivery of Peterborough’s new university will be “his enduring legacy", the motion states. 

It is also proposed to award Mr Holdich with the status of Honorary Alderman, along with four other long-serving former councillors -  Chris Ash, David Seaton, Darren Fower and Diane Lamb.

To be considered for the honour a person should have been re-elected for at least three terms and served a minimum of 11 years service. 

The vote to determine whether freedom of the city will be granted to Peterborough’s RBL and John Holdich will take place next Wednesday evening.