THREE residents have been awarded the Freedom of Middlewich in a historic first for the town.

On Sunday, September 17, a civic service was held to celebrate the town council's 50th mayor, Cllr Colin Coules.

And to mark the milestone, Cllr Coules exercised the town right to bestow its highest honour on Janet Chisholm BEM, Ken Kingston and David Cooke for their outstanding service to the community.

This is the first time in the town's history the power to bestow such an award has been used.

Cllr Coules was delighted to be the one to hand down the award to three very worthy recipients.

He said: "The award of Freedom of the Town, is the highest honour a town can bestow on a resident.

"It has to be handed out very rarely and only to really exceptional people and I think we've kept that in place and protected its value.

Northwich Guardian: Janet Chisholm alongside Cllr Colin Coules and Fiona Bruce MPJanet Chisholm alongside Cllr Colin Coules and Fiona Bruce MP (Image: Middlewich Town Council)

"We have definitely given it to three people who really deserve it. What more could they give to Middlewich? It's amazing."

Janet, the first recipient, established the Middlewich Clean Team some 20 years ago and she still leads the group, now boasting 150 members and a junior section, today.

She received her award from Cllr Coules and town clerk Nicola Antoney, supported by her family and friends, including her son, who flew in from Saudi Arabia for the event.

Cllr Coules added: "Janet is a remarkable lady. She's a big part of the community, not just for the litter pickers, but also for charities and fundraising - Janet's always there.

"She is such a respected lady in our society."

Northwich Guardian: Ken Kingston receives the honour from Cllr Colin CoulesKen Kingston receives the honour from Cllr Colin Coules (Image: Middlewich Town Council)

The next recipient, Ken, joined the Heritage Society in 2006 and has became a member of the trust's foundation 10 years later. 

Ken served as chairman of the Middlewich Cemetery management board from 2014 to 2018 and has been involved in the British Legion and Poppy Appeal since 2009.

From 2013 to 2019 Ken served as a Middlewich town councillor, becoming mayor in 2015 and continued to carry out his duties despite coming under personal attack.

Cllr Coules said: "Ken is a real gentleman. He's done so much for Middlewich, I think he's probably affected more people's lives than we'll ever know.

"It's truly, truly amazing."

Northwich Guardian: David Cooke, with his family, alongside Cllr Colin CoulesDavid Cooke, with his family, alongside Cllr Colin Coules (Image: Middlewich Town Council)

 The final recipient, David Cooke, joined the Boys' Brigade in 1954 achieving captain status by the age of 17.

He moved to Middlewich with his wife Fiona and two daughters, Lindsay and Sheena, in 1980 before forming the first Middlewich branch in 1983.

Some 40 years later, David is looking after the branch and he and his family continue to support the youth of Middlewich.

David, who accepted the award with the help of his three grandsons, is also one of six founding members of the Middlewich Foodbank.

Northwich Guardian: The Roberts Bakery brass band provided music for the paradeThe Roberts Bakery brass band provided music for the parade (Image: Middlewich Town Council)

Lady mayoress Elena Coules summed up David`s achievements as 'remarkable service and commitment from a remarkable man, a true role model for us all'.

Cllr Coules added: "If you take David's family as a whole, they've given something like 90 years of service to the youth of Middlewich, which is absolutely staggering."

Ahead of the service a 200-strong parade of dignitaries, community groups and residents marched along the town's streets, with the Roberts Bakery brass band providing music, to St Michael and All Angels Church.

Fiona Bruce MP, who attended the service, said: “Having known and worked alongside Janet Chisholm BEM, Ken Kingston, and David Cooke in various ways over the 13 years I have had the privilege of being MP for Middlewich, I know first-hand the substantial contribution all three have made to local community life."

Northwich Guardian: The parade through the streets of MiddlewichThe parade through the streets of Middlewich (Image: Middlewich Town Council)

"I commend the mayor of Middlewich, Cllr Colin Coules, for taking the initiative of recognising their contributions by granting them the Freedom of Middlewich - which all three very much deserve."