Highest High Peak honour for ‘selfless and tireless service’

Peter Matthews has been made an Honorary Freeman of the Borough.
Peter Matthews has been made an Honorary Freeman of the Borough.

High Peak this week celebrated the life-long public service of a Simmondley man by admitting him as an Honorary Freeman of the Borough.

Peter Matthews JP was granted the honour by High Peak Borough Council and was presented with an illuminated scroll and badge at a special ceremony.

High Peak mayor, Councillor George Wharmby, hosted the event and paid a warm tribute to Mr Matthews.

He said: “Freeman Matthews began his public life as a Glossop Borough Councillor in 1964 and served as Mayor in 1969. In 1974, following local government reorganisation, he served on the newly-formed High Peak Borough Council for three years.

“Mr Matthews took on a new role maintaining and promoting standards in local government by becoming an independent member on the council’s Standards Committee in 2007, becoming chairman in 2008. He later become the council’s first independent person in 2012.

“We are therefore delighted to recognise his selfless and tireless service to our borough by admitting him as an Honorary Freeman. The High Peak is truly fortunate to have benefitted from his commitment and dedication and we are thrilled to be able to celebrate his achievement in this way.”

Mr Matthews became a magistrate in 1969 – a role he held for more than 36 years until his retirement - making him the longest serving magistrate in Derbyshire at that point. During his tenure he became the first chairman of the combined bench when the Buxton, High Peak and Glossop benches merged.

On his retirement from the bench in 2005, Mr Matthews was placed on the supplemental list of magistrates and retains the title of Justice of the Peace.

Mr Matthews said: “It is a great honour and one of the many wonderful experiences I have had – including serving as mayor and attending a garden party at Buckingham Palace.

“Being able to work towards a better and safer High Peak has put the icing on the cake and I can honestly say I have enjoyed every moment of what has been the most fulfilling and rewarding experience.

“It would not have been possible without the support of my wife Marilyn, who did not choose public life but has always supported and encouraged me, and my family.”

Mr and Mrs Matthews have been married for 62 years and have one married daughter and two grandsons. Mr Matthews continues to be a member of 41 Club, an organisation for ex-Tablers, and also attends meetings of the local Probus Club.

The last person to be admitted as Freeman was Ray Davies in 2007. He was present at Mr Matthews’s ceremony where he was also presented with a badge to mark his status.