Beverley Town Council Citations 2021
KATE GRAY: HONORARY FREEWOMAN CITATION
When local government across the land was reorganised in 1996, Beverley was in real danger of losing its Mayoralty, which had been in place for over 400 years. A group was established, determined to ensure the town would be able to continue this civic tradition, which had been granted by Queen Elizabeth I in 1573. A key member was Kate Gray, who also knew the town could lose its civic assets, gifts and bequests, which would all be transferred to the newly formed East Riding of Yorkshire Council. She was passionate in her belief that the establishment of a Town Council would retain these for the people of Beverley.
Kate’s tireless work as a member of the group culminated in organising a petition to Government, alongside writing letters to decision-makers, liaising with our then Member of Parliament James Cran, and motivating other local people to get behind the campaign to establish a Town Council for Beverley.
Prepared to challenge the machinery of Government, Kate communicated with the Secretary of State, Sir Paul Beresford, who was responsible for pushing through the 1997 Local Government Act. Without her intervention, the Act could have been passed without question, resulting in the Beverley town boundaries we know today being very different. Under the Act, 10% of Beverlonians needed to agree to the Parishing of the town. Kate’s petition was signed by many more than the requisite 10% and in 1999 Beverley Town Council was established, with the legal right for the Council Chairman to also be named Mayor and entitled to wear the Chains and Civic Regalia of Office.
Kate became one of the first intake of Town Councillors in 1999 and, significantly, served as the first Chair and Mayor of the newly formed Beverley Town Council.
For the first six month the Council did not have an office, resulting in Kate giving her front room to serve as temporary headquarters, with clerking services provided by East Riding of Yorkshire Council before the Town Council was able to directly employ their own Town Clerk.
Determined to keep the old traditions alive, Kate’s Civic Service was held in St Mary’s Church, with a special peel of the bells to mark the occasion.
However, this is only one part of Kate Gray’s dedication to the town in which she is firmly a pillar of the Community. In addition to her role as a Town Councillor, she was also successfully elected to East Riding of Yorkshire Council, where she represented the Ward of St Mary’s.
Kate also served on many important, but unsung committees and organisations, such as the Beverley and Holderness Drainage Board, as a Governor at Manor Road Nursery and on the Executive of the Single Regeneration Budget – the latter of which during her tenure was a founding funder of the Domestic Violence and Abuse Partnership (DVAP).
She has also served on the Beverley Community Lift Management Committee, been a vocal member of the Beverley Health Action Group to maintain hospital premises in the town, and been a member of the Beverley Civic Society Executive Committee.
The list of Kate Gray’s past commitments goes on – Neighbourhood Watch, Christmas Lights and a former chair of the Beverley High School Old Girls. She is also proud of have been a past President of Beverley Male Voice Choir, and on the national scene she put her experience fighting for the establishment of the Town Council to good use as Chair of the Association of Charter Town Councils and Charter Trustees.
One of Kate’s most treasured memories, is being Mayor at the turn to the Millennium – at the stroke of midnight she enjoyed watching the spectacular fireworks, whilst raising a champagne toast in Beverley Minster to welcome in the year 2000.
Kate Gray has the history and community spirit of Beverley running through her blood. Not only has she given of herself to so many local groups and organisations, but her hard work has ensured Beverley’s treasure and civic traditions have been saved for posterity. Without Kate, there may not have been a Town Council which has the ability to award Honorary Freemanship and Freewomanships.
Therefore, in recognition of her passion, commitment, determination and hard work, not just to the civic life of our town, but also many other worthwhile local endeavours, it is my honour, on behalf of Beverley Town Council, to bestow upon Mrs Kate Gray the title of Honorary Freewoman of Beverley.
JANET SMART: HONORARY FREEWOMAN CITATION
Janet Smart’s contribution to help and befriend people who live on her estate has enriched and made a difference to the lives of many, many people. She worked for the NHS as a physiotherapy assistant for Mental Health at Broadgates Hospital, which was located on the outskirts of Beverley. In later years she worked extensively in the community and at various other hospitals in the East Riding.
This role instilled within her a need to help people and she often acts as an unofficial social worker. As word of mouth travelled and people felt that they could contact her if they had a problem or troubles that they needed to talk through, her kitchen soon became known as Janet’s Café.
Her skills working in her roles for the NHS often helped her point people in the right direction for who to contact or which services they needed to be in touch with. In this way, she has helped innumerable local people who needed a friendly shoulder and good advice. She has a unique way of bringing people together and making them feel at ease. Due to Covid-19 and Janet’s health, it hasn’t been possible for her to meet people face-to-face, however she has kept in phone contact with many and her warmth and empathy skills shines through as she listens to people’s problems and tries to help them.
Since retiring from the NHS over 10 years ago, Janet has also dedicated her time to raising funds for an orphanage in Lesotho. On a visit to South Africa, she discovered the orphanage which needed help. When Janet’s husband died, she found she needed a focus and started raising funds for the orphanage.
Over the past decade she has raised many thousands of pounds by giving talks to different organisations such as the Women’s Institute both in Beverley and throughout East Yorkshire. Her contribution to educating the various groups and organisations and how we can all make a positive difference to other people’s lives is inspiring.
The award is truly deserved, as Janet is a wonderful role model who has contributed to improving lives of so many people unable to help themselves.
In recognition of the support she has given to so many people and for being a lynchpin of her community, it is my honour, on behalf of Beverley Town Council, to bestow upon Mrs Janet Smart the title of Honorary Freewoman of Beverley.
JIM SHARP: HONORARY FREEMAN CITATION
Jim has lived in Beverley since 1979, coming here to work as a structural engineer with the old Humberside County Council, advising architects and building surveyors on the structure and foundations of new and existing buildings – which is quite an important job because Beverley is built on a swamp!
Jim was a founder member of the Beverley Credit Union which formed in 1990, and was directly involved as a trustee until 2005 when it merged with the Hull Credit Union. Credit Unions are a fairer alternative to banks as they are owned by the members, giving out low-cost loans and encouraging saving. Jim is still a member and ensures that anyone who shows an interest in them gets lots of information!
Despite having a wife and three children, Jim became a founder member of the Beverley Cherry Tree Community Centre when it was formed in 1993 from the former Children’s Society Family Centre. The centre offers a free advice centre for those in need, a preschool, a youth club, a credit union and most recently a social supermarket. It is the main source for families and individuals in crisis to access food vouchers. It is a community hub located in a part of Beverley which suffers from multiple deprivation. Jim has been Chairman and Secretary and remains involved as a trustee after 28 years.
When Beverley Against Poverty was formed in 2014, Jim was once again in at the beginning. It’s aim is to work towards community solutions to help rough sleepers and other vulnerable people and this is where the food bank (which is now East Yorkshire Foodbank) and the community kitchen at Toll Gavel United Church first began.
For 3 years, pre-Covid, Jim was the main co-ordinator of a weekly project, again at Toll Gavel, where rough sleepers could get a shower and a hot snack. During Covid, Jim and other BAP volunteers, took sandwiches and hot drinks to the homeless, working with Hull and East Yorkshire Emmaus homeless outreach organisation. BAP is currently working with the Cherry Tree Centre and an organisation called Acts435 to fund domestic emergencies.
Jim is a talented pianist, mostly playing by ear. He’s in great demand at care homes, regularly playing at 3 local homes before lockdown and also playing for worship services organised by Beverley Churches Together, of which he is also a member, nominated by Toll Gavel United Church. Top of the Pops for residents is, I understand, ‘We’ll Meet Again’!
Toll Gavel United Church features a lot in Jim’s life. His father was a Congregational Church Minister, now part of the United Reformed Church, which is one of the two partner churches at Toll Gavel. Rev Sharp was involved with the YMCA and marriage guidance and influenced Jim’s Christian faith. He says he does what he does because of his strong belief is that there is a meaning and purpose in life, and he is here to serve other people, especially the vulnerable and suffering.
Does Jim ever relax? Well, he is a member of the Elderly Gentleman’s Golfing Society, which plays on the Westwood, but he won’t divulge his handicap. He also admits his wife, Sheila, had to put up with a lot over the years, especially when the children were young, because he was out quite a lot! Jim Sharp is truly one of our unsung heroes.
In recognition of his selfless commitment to helping the people of our town in many ways over many years, it is my honour, on behalf of Beverley Town Council, to bestow upon Mr Jim Sharp the title of Honorary Freeman of Beverley.