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Council confers Honorary Freedom of the Borough on Hector Duff

Tuesday, 09 February 2016 06:41

The honorary Freedom of the Borough of Douglas has been conferred on Mr Hector Duff.


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The honour, in recognition of Mr Duff’s tireless devotion to ensuring those who lost their lives serving in the First and Second World Wars are not forgotten, was bestowed on Mr Duff at a special meeting of the Council on Friday February 5 after Members unanimously agreed the motion, proposed by Councillor David Ashford and seconded by Councillor Betty Quirk.


 AGroup BSC3115 MediumHer Worship and the Mayoress with Mr Duff and, left to right, Pam Ledgard, Val and Ramsey Tomkin, Tony Duff, Glynis Duff and Colin Duff


Councillor Ashford said Mr Duff was ‘one of those people who just keeps giving of his time freely’, adding: ‘He is always willing to help to support organisations or individuals and to impart his knowledge and experiences in order to benefit others.’


Councillor Ashford went on to outline Mr Duff’s distinguished military career, which began in 1940 when, aged 19, he registered in Peel with the Island’s first intake of conscripts. He later served at El-Alamein and in the invasion of Italy in 1943, receiving a citation for distinguished service, while his part in the D-Day landings saw him receive the Military Medal.


After the war he enjoyed an equally distinguished 30-year career in the Isle of Man Constabulary, received the British Empire Medal in 2012 and the Tynwald Honour in 2014, the same year he was presented with the Légion d’Honneur by President Hollande. 


In closing Councillor Ashford said: ‘As far as I am concerned Hector is a living inspiration to us all and what better type of person is there than that for the greatest honour this Council can bestow, the Honorary Freedom of the Borough of Douglas.’


In seconding the motion Councillor Quirk, who has known Mr Duff for some 40 years, also spoke of his ‘record of unblemished public service’ and recalled the ‘daunting task’ he faced when, as a driving instructor he taught her daughter to drive. She concluded: ‘Hector has always demonstrated a gift for communication, which he has used to great advantage with his work in education with young people. He has achieved much with it and we, as a community, are all the richer for it.’


In his reply Mr Duff said the honour would be ‘a wonderful memory’ and that his enjoyment in serving the community remained undimmed.  He praised the Council for maintaining the Douglas war memorial in good condition, saying it was ‘in wonderful hands’.


Much of his inspiration in life had come from his ‘hero’ Sir Winston Churchill, notably the statesman’s belief that ‘a community or country that forgets its past has no future’, prompting Mr Duff to urge: ‘Don’t let the passing of time dim the memory’ and to close by citing the quote from the late World Number One tennis player Arthur Ashe: 'From what we get, we can make a living; what we give, however, makes a life’.


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The illuminated address marking the honour was presented to Mr Duff by Her Worship the Mayor, Councillor Sara Hackman JP. Created by local artist Colleen Corlett it depicts images from Mr Duff’s military and civilian careers, also his work in the community.


Among the images are those of Cronk Sumark, one of Mr Duff’s favourite places in the Island, and the war memorial in Sulby, the village where he was born.