LEGENDARY marathon runner Ron Hill MBE has been granted the freedom of the borough in Tameside.
At an extraordinary meeting of the full council, the three times Olympian from Gee Cross became just the 13th person in the borough’s history to be made an honorary freeman.
The last person to receive the award was Sir Geoff Hurst who scored a hat trick for England in the 1966 world cup final against Germany.
Hyde Councillor Jim Fitzpatrick, who nominated Ron for the honour, said that he had achieved his own ‘hat trick’ in his doctorate, MBE and now becoming an honorary freeman.
The honour was given in recognition of his lifetime of running achievements, including representing Great Britain in the Olympics, taking gold at the European Championships and Commonwealth Games, and winning many of the world’s leading marathons.
He became the first British runner to win the Boston Marathon and his final marathon was the 100th Boston Marathon in 1996.
The 81-year-old attended the ceremony at Dukinfield town hall wearing his 1968 Olympic blazer.
Tameside’s Civic Mayor Leigh Drennan told councillors that bestowing the freedom of the borough was a “rare honour”.
“Quite clearly the honorary freemen of Tameside are a very special breed,” he said.
“They are people who have shown unparalleled dedication and commitment in their field and in Dr Ron Hill MBE we have a worthy candidate to join this exclusive group of high achievers.
“When he won the European marathon gold in 1969 it was on the original road from Athens that was used in the days of ancient Greece.
“Ron can also lay claim to a marathon streak of consecutive running. Incredible as it may seem he actually ran every day for 52 years and 39 days between 1964 and 2017.
“It’s fair to say Ron is one of the best-known runners in the world.”
In 1983 Ron also founded the Tour of Tameside, a running festival that now lasts four days and spans across the borough.
Mayor Drennan said it was widely renowned as one of the toughest challenges in running.
“Ron has literally put Tameside on the map,” he said, adding that Ron was also one of the borough’s business entrepreneurs.
Ron gained his PhD in textile chemistry and founded clothing company Ronhill in 1970 which pioneered and designed new types of running clothes.
It had a shop on Market Street in Hyde and is still going strong today with its products manufactured at Redfern Industrial Estate in the town.
The freedom of the borough is the highest award that the town hall can bestow.
It is a power that is very rarely used and is normally only awarded to people who have in the opinion of the council, rendered ’eminent services’ to the borough.
Accrington-born and raised Ron is also an honorary freeman of the borough of Hyndburn.
By Charlotte Green – Local Democracy Reporter