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Freedom of the Borough of Tunbridge Wells

The Honorary Freedom of the Borough of Tunbridge Wells was granted to Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust on Wednesday 5 July.

Fittingly the award was presented on the same day as the 75th anniversary of the NHS. The award was made by the Mayor, Councillor Hugh Patterson, during a Full Council meeting.

Four representatives of the Trust were there to receive the award: Miles Scott (Chief Executive), David Highton (Chair of the Trust Board), Sally Foy (Director of Operational Nursing) and Debbie O’Reilly (Chair of the Staff Side Council).

The proposal to award the Freedom of the Borough to the Trust notes that Tunbridge Wells has been associated with health and wellbeing since its relatively humble beginnings as a bubbling spring in the dense woodland of the High Weald. Well into the 20th century, when belief in the wonders of the spring water had long subsided, Tunbridge Wells continued to be marketed as ‘Britain’s sunniest inland health resort’. Today locally Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust looks after over 700,000 people. When it opened, the Tunbridge Wells Hospital brought together local hospital services for the first time in the same location. The hospital demonstrates a proud tradition of health care in Tunbridge Wells and its neighbourhood, demonstrated most recently in the exceptional circumstances of the COVID pandemic.

Hugh Patterson, Mayor of Tunbridge Wells said:

I was proud to take part in the celebrations for the 75th anniversary of the NHS on 5th July. In the afternoon the Mayoress and I accompanied the Lord Lieutenant on a visit to the hospital to meet staff and charities who support the Trust and to learn about the issues that face them.

‘In the evening I presided over the Borough Council meeting where the most important agenda item was to present the MTW NHS Trust with the Freedom of the Borough. During this ceremony elected members paid their own personal tributes to the work of the local NHS over the last 75 years and particularly since the start of the pandemic. I was honoured to be able to hand over the commemorative scroll which is a sign of how highly we regard and value the work of our local NHS trust and its employees.

Miles Scott, Chief Executive of Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust said:

It is a huge privilege to receive this honour on behalf of my colleagues at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust. We’re fortunate enough to have over 7,000 staff across our hospitals, caring for over 900,000 patients every year, and this honour is a testament to their hard work and commitment. I see the kindness, compassion and dedication of our teams, every single day.

This honour also represents our close relationship with the council and the people of Tunbridge Wells who have shown such fantastic support for their local NHS throughout its 75-year existence, through the COVID pandemic and now as we move towards a bright future, and to the next 75 years of supporting our beloved NHS.

The Honorary Freedom of the Borough is the highest award that the council can give to an individual or corporate body. The award is not often made and is normally only conferred on local people who have made a significant contribution to the locality or have achieved something outstanding. The last time it was given to an organisation was in 2013 when it was awarded to the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment.

As well as conferring the Freedom of the Borough the Council marked the 75th anniversary by raising the NHS flag on the town hall and lighting up the building with blue lights overnight.

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