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Council to confer two Honorary Freedoms of the Borough

Tuesday, 10 November 2015 14:51

Douglas Borough Council is to confer the Honorary Freedom of the Borough on Councillor Mrs Raina Chatel and Mr Hector Duff.


Both are to be recognised for their outstanding contributions to the people of Douglas and the wider community.


ARainaChatelCouncillor Raina Chatel (pictured) was first elected to the Council in 1985 and is to be recognised for her services not only to the Council where she has served on almost every committee, but also to the town - in particular the residents of Victoria Ward. She was also a long-standing member of the then Board of Education for Douglas East and remains a valued member of the governing body of St Ninian’s High School. All of which she combines with her work for charities, including the Royal British Legion, Manx Decaf (for those living with dementia and memory problems) and the Douglas Churches Town Centre Partnership, of which she is secretary.


In proposing Councillor Chatel Councillor David Ashford said: 'Her dedication to serving the people of Douglas can be in no doubt.’ He added: ‘Raina embodies all that is best about our island.'


On learning of the Council's unanimous decision Councillor Chatel said: 'I am humbled to have been recognised by my colleagues in the Council and proud not only to have become the first female to receive the Freedom of the Borough but also be able to share this very special honour with my family.


'Having been born and bred in Douglas I am passionate about the town and have always tried to do what I can to take Douglas forward and to support local good causes. In this I am proud to be continuing the inspirational work of my late husband, George, on whom the honour was conferred in 2007.’


AHectorDuff MediumNow in his 97th year and with a long and distinguished military career Hector Duff (pictured) is still actively involved in ensuring those who died in the First and Second World Wars are not forgotten. Conscripted at the age of 19 he went on to fight in the North African Campaign, received a citation for distinguished service in 1943 while serving in the invasion of Italy and received the Military Medal for his part in the D Day landings in 1944. After the war was over he spent 30 years with the Isle of Man Constabulary. In 2012 he received the British Empire Medal and the Tynwald Honour in 2014, the year he was also presented with the Légion d’Honneur.


As proposer Councillor Ashford said that Mr Duff was ‘the perfect recipient of the greatest honour Douglas Borough Council can bestow’, a man whose ‘dedication shone through’ in wartime and remained undimmed to this day and who was ‘an inspiration to us all’.


Mr Duff, who is an ardent campaigner for the preservation of the island’s war memorials, said: ‘I can still see in my mind’s eye the day I landed in Normandy and it was a privilege to know my fellow servicemen. I shall continue to try to get people, especially the younger generation, to recognise the importance of our war memorials as a way of remembering - not just on Remembrance Sunday, but all year round - the men and women who have died in theatres of war.


‘I am incredibly proud, honoured and very touched to have been chosen and delighted to be able to share this with my family.’


Mr Duff added that he was a strong believer in the quote he once read that said:  ‘From what we get, we can make a living; what we give, however, makes a life’.


Council leader Councillor David Christian MBE JP said: 'I have had the pleasure of working alongside Raina for more than 28 years and to this day value her wise counsel and admire her selfless dedication to serving the people of Douglas. Together Raina and George were a powerful force for good in Douglas and Raina is, indeed, carrying on that tradition of service to others. I am proud to count her as a colleague and as a friend. As the first woman to be awarded the Freedom of the Borough there could no more respected female ambassador for Douglas than Raina Chatel.’


Of Mr Duff Councillor Christian said:  ‘The people of Douglas and indeed of the Isle of Man owe a huge debt of gratitude to Hector for his tireless public service and for keeping alive the memory of those brave men and women who fought and died so that freedom is ours to enjoy today. Hector is an inspiration to every generation and the Council is proud to count him as one of a small but highly distinguished group of men and now women upon whom it has been pleased to confer the Honorary Freedom of the Borough of Douglas.’


As the sole local authority in the Isle of Man with borough status, Douglas is the only one that can confer the Honorary Freedom of the Borough. The power was first exercised in 1924 when the Right Honourable the Earl of Derby was honoured in recognition of his war service and his part in creating the Douglas war memorial.


Honorary Freemen include Field Marshal the Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, Sir Winston Churchill, Sir Norman Wisdom OBE, the Bee Gees, George Chatel MBE, Geoff Duke OBE, Manx-born world cycling star Mark Cavendish MBE and Geoff Karran MBE.