Honorary Freedom for four of Plymouth’s greatest ambassadors

Angela Rippon OBE, Father Sam Philpott MBE and former city councillors Jean Nelder and David Stark have been nominated to receive the Honorary Freedom of the City for their services to Plymouth.

The title of Honorary Freeman or Freewoman is the highest honour the city can bestow and is awarded to ‘persons of distinction’ who have shown exceptional service or achievement.

It recognises those who have provided ‘eminent services’ to Plymouth and gone the extra mile to enhance the city’s reputation or improve the lives of people less able to help themselves.

Council Leader Tudor Evans said: “These great ambassadors have given years of service to Plymouth’s communities and the city as a whole and are all hugely deserving of this honour. Each has been an inspiration in their field and worked tirelessly to bring about positive change.

“Our ambition is to create a ‘fairer Plymouth where everyone does their bit’ and these are four shining examples of people who go above and beyond in their work. It is a real privilege to put forward such worthy nominees for the Honorary Freedom of the City.”

An extraordinary general meeting of the Council will take place at 2pm on Monday 23 November to confer the titles and Father Sam, Jean Nelder and David Stark will attend. Scrolls will be presented at a later date.

Only 40 individuals and organisations have been awarded Honorary Freedom of the City of Plymouth since 1917.

Father Sam Philpott MBE

Father Sam has served the community of Plymouth since 1978, when he became the vicar of St Peter and the Holy Apostles in Stonehouse. He was at the forefront of pioneering projects including the Drake Foundation, the Ship homeless hostel, Plymouth Mediation and the Millfields Economic Development Trust, which he chairs.

He has developed close working relationships with our housing and social services staff as well as the Probation Service in the development of schemes including Wheels, which encouraged children to work on car repairs and Stables, which taught children how to interact more effectively by teaching them activities such as theatre and rock climbing.

Father Sam has worked in some of the city’s most deprived wards and acted as a governor at a number of schools. He cares passionately for the welfare of children and is one of the city’s Child Poverty Champions and a member of the Cabinet Advisory Committee on Child Poverty.

Father Sam has also been in charge of parishes in Keyham and Ham and has served as the Lord Mayor’s Chaplain twice. He has also served on the Plymouth Fairness Commission. He was awarded an MBE in 2012 for services to the community of Plymouth.

Angela Rippon OBE

Plymouth born and educated, Angela Rippon is a national television journalist, newsreader, writer and presenter and was awarded an OBE in 2004 for her services to broadcasting, charity and the arts.

Angela became patron of the South West Film and Television Archive – the regional film archive for the South West of England and the largest regional film archive in the UK – in 2013.

A dedicated supporter of the Alzheimer’s Society, she became an ambassador in 2009 and in 2013 was made National Dementia Care Ambassador in recognition of her role. She is also Vice President of The Patients’ Association, whose motto is ‘Listening to patients, speaking up for change’.

Angela is regularly a guest speaker at conferences using her personal story of caring for her mother with dementia.  Angela co-chairs the Dementia Friendly Communities Champions Group which focuses on improving inclusion and quality of life for people living with dementia.

Jean Nelder

Jean NelderJean Nelder was one of Plymouth’s longest serving city councillors (1987 to 2015) and is a hugely popular and well-respected Plymouth figure. She represented one of the city’s most deprived communities and is a dedicated and inspirational public servant.

Jean’s main achievement was the establishment of a vision for Plymouth that promoted significantly higher levels of growth and won the top planning award in the country (RTPI Silver Jubilee Cup). She established unique cross-party groups which helped ensure political and community buy-in and played a key role in securing hundreds of millions of pounds of investment in some of the most deprived wards in the country.

She oversaw a 10-year programme of investment in the historic Barbican, establishing new forms of community engagement such as the Sutton Forum and personally led the campaign to declare the East End a Housing Renewal Area which enabled major housing and infrastructure investment.

She was the first woman to be appointed Cattewater Harbour Commissioner and is a representative on numerous partnerships and local community forums. She also served on the Plymouth Development Corporation, which was set up to regenerate the Royal William Yard.

Throughout her time on the Council Jean maintained the respect and admiration of local people and opposition politicians because of her personal integrity and commitment. She has managed to stay rooted in her community, engaging local people to help deliver improvements, while also handling with distinction demanding leadership responsibilities, as well as a period as Deputy Lord Mayor.

David Stark

David StarkBefore retiring as a city councillor this year David Stark was a well-liked and respected politician with a strong commitment to building cross-party consensus on contentious issues for over five decades. He had a long and varied career in politics, starting in 1947 when he joined the Young Conservatives.

David has been instrumental across a number of roles including education, which saw him working across the party divide to secure funding for Plymouth schools and securing funding for the Centre for Faiths and Cultural Diversity.

He was Chair of Plymouth University’s Audit Committee before becoming a university governor, helping to establish a strong higher education presence. Using his roles with the university and the Plymouth Area Business Council, David was a key member of the small team that set up Plymouth Science Park to translate research into marketable products.

A crowning achievement was the development of a capital fund to purchase Mount Edgcumbe in 1971. The 865-acre country park on the Rame Peninsula is now home to Grade I listed gardens and 55 Grade II listed structures that are visited by Plymouth residents and tourists from further afield.

David always ensured that local people’s concerns and issues were heard and acted upon. He made active contributions to his local area with the development of a local park and arranging family fun days for local people. David worked incredibly well with officers, recognising and respecting the role they play with politicians in meeting the needs of local people.