University of Leicester granted Honorary Freedom of the Borough

Published: Wednesday, 31 March 2021

On Tuesday, 30 March 2021, Oadby and Wigston Borough Council held an extraordinary meeting of the Full Council to put before the Councillors a proposal to confer upon the University of Leicester the honour of the Honorary Freedom of the Borough.

At the virtual meeting, which took place at 6:00pm, the University was bestowed the Freedom of the Borough, which is the highest civic honour the Council can award.

The case for the University of Leicester to be granted this honour was put forward by the Council’s Head of Customer Service and Transformation, Philippa Fisher. The motion was proposed by Councillor Samia Haq, who is a Leicester University alumnus, and seconded by the Leader of the Council, Councillor John Boyce.

Chief Executive Officer at the Council, Anne Court said in her report:

“As the University of Leicester celebrates its second centenary year in 2021, the Council supports the University’s commitment to showcasing the contribution and impact of its people, places and events, which demonstrates the University’s full and diverse history and steadfast commitment to inclusivity, and thereby marking its distinguished and eminent services and associations with/in the Borough.”

Leader of the Council, Councillor John Boyce said:

“The University has existed to improve lives, and its motto ‘Ut Vitam Habeant’ (‘So That They May Have Life’) is its driving and motivating force.

“The students and staff at the University are aptly-styled ‘Citizens of Change’, with a collective social conscience that pushes it to build better futures in its community and the wider society. This laudable sentiment cannot be truer in and resonates throughout the Borough of Oadby and Wigston.”

Professor Nishan Canagarajah, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leicester, said:

“This is a tremendous honour and we are incredibly grateful to Oadby & Wigston Borough Council for according the University of Leicester this great honour to commemorate our Centenary.

“The University of Leicester was uniquely founded by community fundraising as a living war memorial following the First World War. Residents in Oadby & Wigston played a pivotal role in our founding story and the relationship between the University and the Borough is key to our future.

“The majority of the University estate is located in the Borough and we continue to discuss with colleagues in Oadby & Wigston the ways in which the University can continue to benefit the area. As Citizens of Change we believe passionately in using the power of higher education for the public good and to bring about tangible benefits.

“I look forward to the occasion for the conferment of the honour.”

Since the Council’s inception in 1974, the Council has only conferred the honour onto one individual and two (military) organisations (three in total) as follows and as shown in the photograph attached showing the commemorative plaque affixed in the Council Chamber at the Council Offices in Wigston.

Oadby and Wigston Borough Council Honorary Freeman:

  • 1988 - H. Embacher
  • 2011 - The Royal Anglian Regiment
  • 2012 - B(LDY) SQN RY [B (Leicestershire and Derbyshire Yeomanry) Squadron, Royal Yeomanry]

The University of Leicester will now too be emblazoned onto the commemorative plaque joining the other three Freeman.

A suitable civic ceremony and reception will also be arranged in the Borough later in the year when circumstances allow.

You can watch the audio-visual recording of the meeting and read the full report that was considered by Councillors.