Three men hailed as ‘fantastic ambassadors’ for a South Yorkshire town have received its highest honour.
Brian Chapple, BBC Radio Sheffield’s former Rotherham United football reporter who now devotes his time to community groups, Lieutenant Commander Allen Dixon, organiser of the town’s military parades, and solicitor and charity volunteer Stephen Smith have been granted the freedom of Rotherham.
Coun Roger Stone, Rotherham Council leader described them as ‘worthy’ candidates who were ‘fantastic ambassadors’ for the community.
During a Rotherham Town Hall ceremony, they were presented with a scroll bearing the town’s Coat of Arms and asked to sign the Roll of Honorary Freemen.
Brian, aged 65 and originally from Northumberland, moved to Rotherham in 1969. As well as his work for Radio Sheffield for 23 years, he was a teacher at Wickersley and Old Hall schools in the 1970s and 1980s, worked as a schools adviser and Ofsted inspector, and was a manager of sports, parks and recreation for Rotherham Council.
He has been president of Rotherham Schools’ Sports Association, was a founder trustee for Rotherham Hospice and works with numerous community groups.
Newcastle-born Lt Cmdr Dixon, 78, moved to Rotherham aged nine. He has been a Royal Navy reservist and involved with the Sea Cadets since 1961, while his role organising parades in the town dates to 1959 – he organises Mayor’s Day and Remembrance Day parades.
Sheffield-born solicitor Stephen Smith, 65, came to Rotherham in 1971.
He was a founder partner in law firm Wilford Smith and Co, but has also spent 40 years helping numerous charities and organisations.
The ceremony heard Mr Smith has raised ‘somewhere between £2 million and £4 million for charity’.
Mr Smith is a founder trustee of Rotherham Hospice, president of Rotherham Town Cricket Club, and chairman of Safe@Last.