At the conclusion of the Act of Remembrance in Leighton Buzzard on Sunday, 10 November, Town Mayor Councillor David Bowater conferred the first-ever title of Honorary Freeman of the Parish on Mr Walter (Wally) Randall. All those present were deeply moved by the presentation and appreciative of Mr Randall’s many years of voluntary service to the town.
The decision to give the award was taken unanimously at an extraordinary meeting of Leighton-Linslade Town Council held on Monday, 14 October 2019.
Until fairly recently, only a handful of local councils had the standing to confer the title of Honorary Freeman. However, changes in legislation now mean that parish councils are able to bestow this title on a “person of distinction who has rendered eminent services in the council’s area”. The proposal to make Mr Randall the first ever resident of Leighton-Linslade to receive the title was made by Councillors J M Freeman, S Jones and R Goodchild and was agreed by all Councillors present and voting at the extraordinary meeting.
The suggestion to confer the title on Mr Randall was made in recognition of his years of voluntary service to the community, including serving as a member of the former Leighton-Linslade Urban District Council (as Chairman during 1968-69), serving as a local magistrate for many years and as a member of the Royal British Legion for over fifty years (including time as Branch President and Committee member). Mr Randall is still a volunteer poppy seller at 104 years of age and is well known within the local community.
On being told of the honour, Mr Randall said “I am delighted and honoured to be receiving this title from the Town Council”.
Town Mayor Councillor Bowater said “It is a tremendous honour to be Mayor this year and to be able to bestow the first ever title of Honorary Freeman of Leighton-Linslade on Mr Wally Randall. Wally is so well known and valued by the local community and this is a fitting way of recognising and celebrating his many years of voluntary service in the town”.
Longstanding Town Councillor and current President of the Leighton Buzzard Branch of the Royal British Legion, Councillor Mark Freeman, said “What a pleasure it has been to nominate Wally for this honour, in recognition of his long and loyal service to this community”.
The Honorary Freeman title differs from the “Freedom of Entry to the town”, which Leighton-Linslade Town Council bestowed upon RAF Stanbridge on 27 April 1987 and upon the 1003 (Leighton Buzzard) Squadron Air Training Corps on 29 January 2001.