Wellingborough Olympian Anita's delight as she is promised honorary freewoman title

The motion had been proposed by Cllr Marion Turner-Hawes

By Alison Bagley
Thursday, 22nd July 2021, 12:01 pm
Updated Friday, 23rd July 2021, 12:46 pm

Wellingborough's own Olympic pioneer Anita Neil has been given the status of honorary freewoman in the week that the Tokyo games begin.

Wellingborough Town Council members last night (Wednesday) voted to honour Anita - Britain's first black female Olympian - with the status, the first given by the new council.

Independent councillor Marion Turner-Hawes had proposed a motion to confer the status of honorary freewoman to the Wellingborough-born athlete.

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Anita Neil - Wellingborough Olympian

Anita made the headlines earlier this year when it was confirmed by the British Olympic Association that she was officially the first black British female Olympian.

The motion was passed to acknowledge Anita’s 'tremendous athletic achievements'.

Anita said: "I am very, very honoured, proud and happy. It is a privilege. I think it's something just in name but maybe I'll get a certificate or a pin badge.

"I'm so pleased for Marion too."

Anita returns to Wellingborough with her medals

At the meeting councillors debated handing out the honour before a policy on the procedure had been put in place by the fledgling council.

Cllr Turner-Hawes said: "It was not an easy process, and a number of councillors spoke up passionately. It wasn't that any colleague did not want to honour Anita in this way, they were just concerned about doing it before the council had sorted out its own policy.

"The intention is to commit to the honour and then sort out the process is what has been decided.

"Clearly this has been a very long time coming and I am so delighted for Anita."

The official wording of the motion was: "It was resolved to undertake to confer Anita Neil OLY as an honorary freewoman.

"It was resolved for a working group to be formed to devise a protocol on appointing an honorary Freeman, which will be presented to the September Full Council Meeting for adoption."