Robbie Williams Set to be Offered Freedom of the City
Stoke-on-Trent pop superstar Robbie Williams is likely to be offered the Freedom of the City as part of civic celebrations in recognition of his career and charity work.
The announcement was made by Stoke-on-Trent City Council leader Mohammed Pervez at today’s official unveiling of a new tourist trail celebrating the singer’s life.
Lord Mayor of Stoke-on-Trent, councillor Sheila Pitt did the honours at this afternoon’s launch which took place in the Floral Hall at Victoria Park, Tunstall, in the presence of Robbie’s dad Pete Conway.
Children from Robbie’s former schools – Mill Hill Primary in Tunstall and St Margaret Ward Catholic College – entertained guests with a medley of the star’s hits and jazz tunes.
There are now 11 plaques at various locations across the city showing where young Robert Peter Williams lived, went to school, played football, watched his beloved Port Vale or even trod the boards.
At the plaque unveiling, council leader Mohammed Pervez said: “Only a very select number of people have plaques named after them in Stoke-on-Trent. While the council hasn’t been responsible for naming other recipients, I can tell you that eminent Victorian scientist and spark plug inventor Sir Oliver Lodge has a plaque in his name in Penkhull.
“Author HG Wells has a plaque in his name when he stayed in the city, as does Ernest Albert Egerton, who won the Victoria Cross at Passchendaele Ridge in 1917. Long distance cyclist Tommy Godwin and Captain Smith of the S.S. Titanic are also recipients. Robbie is, therefore, joining an illustrious and eclectic group!”
Councillor Pervez added: “I’d like to finish with a special announcement. We will be asking the full city council at the meeting in March to whole-heartedly support the conferment of Freedom of the City on Robbie Williams for his outstanding contribution to music and for his local and international fund-raising activities, specifically supporting children. This would be a fitting tribute to our local superstar.”
Pete Conway read out a personal message from his son which told everyone how proud he was to receive the civic honours planned to coincide with his 40th birthday and a fans’ festival here in the Potteries which starts on Friday.
It read: “There is a saying that it takes a village to raise a child. This particular village moulded me into the man I am today.
“I wear where I am from as a badge of honour so to have that honour returned to me is very special. As soon as I can I will be there with my daughter having our picture taken next to it (the tourist trail plaques) – and she won’t know why daddy will have a tear in his eye, but it will be a tear of pride. I’m proud of our Six Towns. I’m proud to come from Stoke-on-Trent. I’m extremely honoured and grateful that you think it fitting to give me this recognition. God Bless you all. PS: My daughter’s first word was Mummy and her second was duck! She’s a Stokie!”
As well as the tourist trail, a three-month Robbie Williams exhibition launches on Saturday at the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery.
Entitled Portrait of a Potteries Pop Star, it features never-before-seen images from The Sentinel archive as well as family photos, memorabilia, awards, clothing and signed items loaned by Robbie’s parents Pete and Jan.
On February 13, Robbie’s actual birthday, schools across the city will be marking it with a ‘Robbie Day’ – the details are which have yet to be finalised but are certain to include musical and arts-based activities for children of all ages.
Another permanent legacy of next month’s celebrations will be the naming of three streets in honour of the music star at a new housing development led by Sanctuary Group in Middleport and developed by Seddon Construction.
Later this year you’ll be able to visit Angels Way, walk down Candy Lane or take a stroll down Supreme Street.
Civic recognition for Robbie’s career and charitable works was prompted by an article in The Sentinel in November which called for the city to honour the star in time for his 40th birthday and RWFanFest which begins this Friday in Stoke-on-Trent and aims to raise vital funds for the Donna Louise Children’s Hospice, of which Robbie is a patron.
RWFanFest celebrations include a sell-out tribute gig at Vale Park on Saturday night, bus tours around the tourist trail organised by 6Towns Radio and an exhibition of 70 original paintings by Italian superfan Gabriella Guardamagna which have been shipped over from Milan to Burslem School of Art.