Dedicated John and Mary to be rewarded for community work through Honorary Burgess

Two Leighton Buzzard community champions have been chosen to receive the town’s Honorary Burgess accolade for 2020.

At a meeting of Leighton-Linslade Town Council held on Monday, 27 January, it was unanimously agreed to present the award to Mary Cheshire and John Halstead in recognition of their years of voluntary service to the town.

The Honours Board in the Council Chamber at the White House, which ensures ongoing recognition for all the worthy recipients of the award

The Honours Board in the Council Chamber at the White House, which ensures ongoing recognition for all the worthy recipients of the award

Mary Cheshire was nominated for the work she does in helping to look after the riverbank.

In all weathers, Mary can be seen at least once a week walking the riverbank with her trolley, collecting any rubbish she can find.

Mary takes pride in helping to look after the area and is also a good ambassador, helping to explain to the public about the conservation activities along the river. A representative of The Greensand Trust said: “Mary has been a fantastically dedicated and reliable volunteer, making her regular trips to clear litter from the riverbanks and never complaining.  But what is really special about Mary is that she is always cheery and will talk to anyone.

“I think if I’d tried to do half the amount of litter picking that Mary has along the river I would have become downhearted and given up, but not Mary”.

John Halstead, one of the Honorary Burgess recipients for 2020, and his wife Sue

John Halstead, one of the Honorary Burgess recipients for 2020, and his wife Sue

John Halstead was nominated for the volunteering and charity work he has undertaken since the 1970s, including many years with the Rotary Club of Leighton-Linslade, many years as a Governor of Oak Bank School and time spent on the committees of the Town Twinning Forum and the Townlands Trust.

A representative of the Rotary Club said: “The Rotary Club of Leighton Linslade are delighted to hear that John Halstead has been appointed a Town Burgee.

“John’s contribution to the community and its wellbeing over many years has been nothing short of inspirational. Generations of Leighton Linslade residents will have witnessed him conducting events at the Annual May Day Fayre as well as his role as Quiz Master in Chief at the famous Brains of Leighton Buzzard Quiz Night. Well done John.”

The two worthy recipients will be presented their Honorary Burgess award by Town Mayor Councillor David Bowater at this year’s annual Civic Service, taking place on Sunday, February 23, at 3pm at All Saints Church.

The “Title of Dignity” Honorary Burgess is an award scheme which was established by the Town Council in 2007 as a means to recognise those unsung heroes who give their time to the benefit of the parish and its residents.

In the intervening years, 26 deserving local heroes have been nominated by the community to receive this award. The names of all 28 recipients of the award appear on a board in the Council Chamber at the White House so that their contributions are not forgotten.

Further to a change in legislation regarding parish council powers in recent years, 2020 will be the final year of the Honorary Burgess award in its current form. The same legislation permitted the Town Council to award its first ever Honorary Freeman award to Walter (Wally) Randall in November 2019. The Honorary Freeman is now the only civic award the Town Council is empowered to give.

Launching later this year will be a new scheme to continue to recognise and celebrate those who give their time so generously to benefit our town.

The council will be inviting nominations for the Leighton-Linslade Community Volunteer Awards later this year, with the first awards set to take place in early 2021.

Please visit the Town Council’s website to find out more.