On 1 February 2024, John Thomas was made an Honorary Freeman of Patchway by the Town Council to recognise the long and outstanding service of John to the town and community.
Mayor of Patchway, Cllr Dayley Lawrence bestowed this honour on John in front of a packed audience of family, friends, current and former colleagues, organisation representatives, members of the local community and other Freemen at the Patchway Community Centre. John was presented with a Certificate and Bristol Blue Glass Award to mark this momentous occasion.
The evening was also a surprise for John with everyone involved sworn to secrecy until the big moment arrived!
John’s involvement with many organisations and initiatives has spanned across the years and the evening heard speeches from a number of people who have worked closely with John on a variety of projects and groups.
Current Patchway Town Councillor Eric Gordon who was Chair of the Council when John was Vice Chair in 2010 – 11 spoke of John’s passion and ideas as a Councillor. Manager of the Patchway Community Centre Tina Brice who has worked with John since 2013 gave us an insight into the commitment of John to the Centre, to all its users, and his central role in the redevelopment of the Centre to what is today.
Cllr Roger Loveridge talked about John’s role as Treasurer on the Patchway & Charlton Hayes Sports Association as the small group embarked on an ambitious project to replace and upgrade the ageing sports facilities at Norman Scott Park. John’s role as an expert in the finance and grant applications was highlighted with the resulting fantastic facilities the town has today a testament to John and the Association.
Lucy Hamid from the Friends of Patchway Twinning outlined the huge influence John had on developing and sustaining the twinning links with Gauting, Germany and Clermont L’Herault, France through engagement with young people across the three towns. Lucy also read a delightful speech from Adriana Scipio Chair of DFEV Gauting on John’s outreach with the Gauting community and schools.
Kathy Hemmings and Chris Mills from 2nd Patchway Scouts talked about how John’s skills were a perfect fit for joining the Scouts Committee with his tight eye on figures, improving processes, and applying for grants.
Deputy Clerk Jon Watkins read out a wonderful message from Clerk Jack Turner now Locum Clerking for the Council from Jersey. Jack remembers fondly the wise counsel of John in regular Friday chats, and also John’s eagle eye on spotting non-Community users parking outside!
The end of the speeches was left to John himself to respond. Ever humble in his approach, John thanked everyone he has worked alongside saying all of it was only possible with the support of a good committee or team.
Mayor of Patchway Cllr Dayley Lawrence said, ‘One of the really special things a Mayor gets to do is recognise the people who make such a difference to their community. I was so proud to make John a Freeman of Patchway. He really is a fantastic man who has done so much for others’.
The Honorary Freeman is awarded under the Local Government Act 1972 and you can read more about it HERE.
5 February 2024