PEOPLE who have helped to shape St Helens, improve the quality of life for its residents and change things for the better are to be rewarded with the highest honour the borough can bestow.
And, in recognition of the incredible work carried out by our armed forces over the years, St Helens is to extend the honour to serviceman and woman – past and present.
“We realise this is a major departure from the norm,” said Leader of the Council Councillor Marie Rimmer, “but we couldn’t think of a better way of acknowledging the enormous debt owed to those who put their lives on the line for the country.”
No less than eight recipients will be made Honorary Freemen of the Borough at a special council meeting on 29 February. A formal presentation will be arranged for later in the year.
The honorary Freedom of the Borough will be conferred on:
- Bill Ainscough and Langtree Group plc – for services to the local economy.
- Chris Baybutt – for services to the economy and environment in St Helens.
- David Baybutt – for services to the economy and environment in St Helens.
- Eamonn McManus – for services to sport in St Helens.
- Jean Mulford – for services to the voluntary sector in St Helens;
- Kirsty Pilkington – for her work in the voluntary sector and in support of local Arts.
- Willowbrook Hospice – for services to the local community.
- St.Helens Servicemen and Servicewomen past and present.
Willowbrook Hospice becomes only the second organisation to gain the accolade – after the honour was granted to the Saints team in 2001. The hospice is a charity that has cared for over 5,000 patients since it opened in 1997.
The title will also be conferred on Deputy Lieutenant of Merseyside Kirsty Pilkington, Saints Chairman Eamonn McManus and Chair of Halton and St. Helens Voluntary and Community Action Jean Mulford.
In one of the biggest single additions to the borough’s long and illustrious roll of honour, the award will also go to Bill Ainscough and Langtree Group plc and brothers Chris and Dave Baybutt for services to the local economy
The Mayor of St Helens, Councillor Tom Hargreaves said: “This is the highest honour that a borough can bestow on its citizens – and recognises the exceptional contribution that these individuals have made to our lives.”
After the passing of the council resolution, a newly admitted Freeman takes the appropriate Freeman’s Oath and signs the Freeman’s Roll – witnessed by the Mayor and Chief Executive of the council.
A sealed and illuminated certificate of the grant of the Honorary Freedom, incorporating a copy of the formal resolution, is then presented to the newly appointed Honorary Freeman.
Those receiving the accolade are:
Chris and David Baybutt
Brothers Chris and David Baybutt were founder members of Ravenhead Renaissance, a public/private sector consortium established in 1988 to provide a development and regeneration framework for St.Helens. They are Directors of Greenbank Partnerships and are also founder members of the Board that established the World of Glass.
David is a qualified mining engineer with over 30 years’ mine surveying experience, while Chris is a chartered surveyor with many years’ experience in development and a vast knowledge of the regeneration industry.
Their work has included the regeneration of more than 100 acres of derelict land next to St.Helens town centre; the development of Ravenhead Park Retail site and the reclamation of major derelict land areas next to Pilkington n the town centre resulting in the development of the Shire housing site. They were the key in the development of the M62 link road which opened up large tracts of land for development.
Their work in St.Helens contributed significantly to making the borough a more attractive for inward investors and a safer place to live and work.
Willowbrook Hospice cares for people over eighteen years of age with life-limiting illnesses living in the St Helens and Knowsley area. The charity makes no charge for its services, but relies on its own fundraising efforts and a modest contribution from the NHS. This enables the hospice to provide support to patients and their families according to their individual needs.
Since the Hospice opened in 1997, it’s cared for over 5,000 patients. Services have grown so much that it now receives over 850 patient referrals a year. Although approximately 95 per cent of its patients have cancer, dedicated staff treat other life limiting diseases such as Motor Neurone Disease, end stage heart failure and renal failure.
The hospice has 10 in-patient beds, weekly out-patient clinics and is registered for up to 50 day therapy places a week. The hospice is a key part of the St.Helens community.
Bill Ainscough and Langtree Construction, of which he is Chairman, and has over 40 years’ house building and property experience. He has been a director of several public companies and has a variety of commercial interests including Wain Group Limited – where he is the Chairman and major shareholder – which he founded in 1972, and Langtree Group plc – where he is Chairman and owner – which he founded in 1982.
Langtree have been responsible for the development of the Saints stadium, including raising the finance to support the project, without them the stadium would not have gone ahead; the recent development of Chalon Way and the Chamber of Commerce offices; Delph Court; Lea Green Business Park; Park Court and Mere Grange.
Langtree have supported the council on many regeneration projects and have been part of the on-going regeneration of the borough through the work of John Downes, their managing director, including the City Growth Strategy and Ravenhead Renaissance.
Bill is married and lives with wife Liz in Wrightington, Lancashire. He has four children and seven grandchildren.
Kirsty Pilkington, Deputy Lieutenant of Merseyside since 2002, was also High Sheriff of Merseyside between 2002 and 2003.
She was awarded the MBE in January 2010 and has been awarded a Paul Harris Fellowship – an honour given by the Rotary Foundation in appreciation of the furtherance of friendly relations among peoples of the world.
Kirsty is involved with many local charities and organisations and is Chairman of Trustees of Willowbrook Hospice; Director of the Citadel Arts Centre; Trustee of Clonter Opera [arranging opera workshops in schools]; Trustee of World of Glass;
Trustee of Pilkington Glass Collection; Trustee of Pilkington Family Trusts [care of pensioners]; Patron of Halton and St Helens Council for Voluntary Services; Patron of St Helens Sinfonietta; Patron of SAMM Merseyside and President of St Helens Group of Advanced Motorists.
She has four children and eleven grandchildren.
A famous ‘Yicker,’ Eamonn is proud of his Haydock roots. He was born in May 1956 and educated at St.Mary’s Primary in Blackbrook and the former West Park Grammar school in St.Helens. He studied law at St.John’s College Cambridge University becoming a solicitor with City firm Norton Rose in 1978.
Eamonn later became an investment banker and joined HSBC’s Asian Investment Bank in Hong Kong in 1982. He was appointed Head of Asian Corporate Finance in 1993 and then Divisional Chief Executive Officer. He became a member of the global investment banking committee in 1997. He advised on many of Asia’s largest merger and acquisition transactions (including HSBC’s takeover of Midland Bank in 1994) and equity capital market transactions – including China’s privatisation programme.
He returned to England in 2000 and became Chairman of Saints in 2001. He has successfully put the Club onto a sound financial footing in order to ensure that they are successful both on and off the pitch. Eamonn and his fellow directors have been the drive and the catalyst behind the development of Langtree Park.
He played rugby union for Cambridge University, Saracens and Hong Kong, accumulating 30 caps for Hong Kong and played in international 7’s for six consecutive years. He is married to Betty and has two children, Anne (24) and Shaun (22).
Jean Mulford – Chair of Halton and St. Helens Voluntary and Community Action.
Voluntary work was to become a way of life for Jean when she became involved with the local Guide Dogs for the Blind and became a special needs lecturer at Newton College.
Jean was a full time lecturer at St.Helens College between 1969 and 1999, being appointed Assistant Principal in 1986. During this time Jean became an active volunteer in St.Helens, supporting many local voluntary groups, including the Council for Voluntary Services, Dash, CDP Parr Hall Millennium Green.
Jean was appointed Chair of the St.Helens CVS in 1990 and has been a hard working unpaid volunteer representing many local voluntary sector organisations throughout the borough.
She is a member of the Local Strategic Partnership and supports both the council and the local health services in all forms of partnership working.