James Cracknell OBE, president of the London Road Safety Council, has been awarded the Freedom of the City of London in recognition of his role as an ambassador for road safety.
In 2010 James suffered a near fatal accident while cycling through Arizona during an attempt to cycle, run, row and swim from Los Angeles to New York – an incident that probably would have proved fatal if he hadn’t been wearing a cycle helmet.
As a result of his life-threatening experience, James began championing road safety and was appointed president of the LRSC in July 2015. He is also vice president of the charity Headway, which provides support for people who have suffered a brain injury.
During his time as LRSC president, James has supported numerous initiatives by London borough road safety teams.
In September he helped launch a scheme under which CCTV cameras have been installed at schools across Hillingdon to monitor motorists’ behaviour and keep children safe.
Earlier that month he called for road users to end their ‘turf war’ while addressing delegates at the City of London Corporation’s ‘Safer in the City’ conference.
Earlier in the year he made an impromptu visit to support Hounslow’s road safety team at a car seat clinic in Chiswick.
James was awarded the Freedom of the City of London*, in a ceremony at the Guildhall on 23 November. In the photo he is flanked by his sponsor, Alderman Alison Gowman, Liz Knight, LRSC vice-chair and a number of LRSC trustees.
Cllr Wendy Brice-Thompson, chair of the LRSC, said: “We are delighted to see James receive the Freedom of the City of London, and extend our warmest congratulations to him on achieving this historic accolade.
“In the 18 months he has served as our president, he has been a great ambassador for road safety in the Capital.
“We are grateful for his enthusiastic support and very appreciative of the time he takes from his busy schedule to support the LRSC and London’s road safety teams. His presence adds a bit of ‘star quality’ to events, but more than that he genuinely cares about road safety and is becoming increasingly knowledgeable about the challenges road safety officers face in keeping people safe on the roads.”
24 November 2016
*Freedom of the City of London – one of the oldest surviving traditional ceremonies still in existence – is believed to have been first presented in 1237.
The medieval term ‘freeman’ meant someone who was not the property of a feudal Lord but enjoyed privileges such as the right to earn money and own land. Town dwellers who were protected by the charter of their town or city were often free – hence the term ‘freedom’ of the City.
From the Middle Ages and the Victorian era, the Freedom was the right to trade, enabling members of a Guild or Livery to carry out their trade or craft in the Square Mile.
A fee or fine would be charged and in return the Livery Companies would ensure that the goods and services provided would be of the highest possible standards. In 1835, the Freedom was widened to incorporate not just members of Livery Companies but also people living or working in the City or those with a strong London connection.
Today most of the practical reasons for obtaining the Freedom of the City have disappeared. It nevertheless remains as a unique part of London’s history to which many people who have lived or worked in the City have been proud to be admitted.