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Freedom of the Borough awarded to resident

Royal Tunbridge Wells resident, Dr Philip Whitbourn OBE PhD, FSA, FRIBA, FRTPI has been awarded the honour of the Freedom of the Borough.

At a ceremony held in the town hall on Wednesday 19 April 2023 Dr Whitbourn was presented with a commemorative scroll by the Mayor of Tunbridge Wells, Godfrey Bland in front of invited guests including Deputy Lieutenant of Kent, Mrs Georgie Warner. Dr Whitbourn was accompanied by his wife Anne and his daughter Ms Katherine Gregory and his son Dr James Whitbourn.

After presenting the award the Mayor, Godfrey Bland, said: "Over sixty years Dr Whitbourn has quite simply conserved, preserved and improved the town of Tunbridge Wells. We can do no less that present him with the Freedom of the Borough, for which he has done so much."

Receiving the award Dr Whitbourn thanked the Mayor and Council for presenting him with the honour and he thanked the people who were there to see him accept it, including the representatives from the voluntary organisations he has been involved with. He said: "This is the first time is the highest award has been given to someone who wasn’t part of the council in some way.  No council can do everything it would like to do and that is where the voluntary sector comes in."

Dr Whitbourn, 90, has lived in Royal Tunbridge Wells since 1958 and is a well-known figure in many of the town’s societies. He was a founding member of both the Town Forum and the Royal Tunbridge Wells Civic Society serving three terms as the society’s Chairman and as President from 1995 to 2007.

The honour was proposed by John Forster, past Chair of the Civic Society who highlights Dr Whitbourn’s involvement in local architectural issues and planning matters, including his work in preserving Trinity Theatre.

In his statement seconding the application Greg Clark MP said: "Philip Whitbourn has played an irreplaceable role in shaping Tunbridge Wells as the attractive, historically rich and culturally vibrant place it is today. Over many years Philip has brought his deep professional expertise in architecture, town planning and history to the service of his own community – and always in a voluntary and energetic way."

The Freedom of the Borough was last awarded in 2013 to the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment. In 1917 the honour was given to Charles Whitbourn Emson, a relative of Dr Philip Whitbourn.

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