Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park Chair bestowed with Honorary Freedom of Sheffield

Dec 20, 2022

Former Sheffield MP and Minister Richard Caborn is being honoured for a lifetime of public service with the Freedom of the City he loves.

At a special council meeting, councillors agreed to confer the Honorary Freedom of the City of Sheffield on Richard in recognition of his “contribution to the advancement of sport in Sheffield, nationwide and internationally, and, in doing so, rendering eminent services to the City.”

Born in Sheffield in 1943, Richard Caborn left school at the age of 15 for an engineering apprenticeship at Thomas Firth and John Browns.

Always active in the trade unions, in 1979 he turned to politics full-time to become MEP for Sheffield in the newly formed European Parliament where he was elected chair of the British Labour Group.

In 1983 he became MP for Sheffield Central, a seat he held until 2010 during which time he chaired the powerful Trade and Industry Select Committee and held three Ministerial portfolios on regional policy, trade and industry, and sport – playing a leading role in the successful London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games bid.

Richard joined the Anti-Apartheid Movement when he was a trade union official in the 1970s and was a founder member of Sheffield Anti-Apartheid Group. He served as the Anti-Apartheid Movement’s national Treasurer from 1989–1994 and also became Secretary of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Southern Africa.

Since leaving Parliament, Richard has maintained his passion for both sport – including his beloved Sheffield United – and industry.

The 79-year-old is currently the chair of Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park – a unique place and project delivering a better future for all through transformational health and wellbeing research, innovation, and applied technology.

Richard said:

“Sheffield is the city where I was born and bred and have worked all my life. I’m truly honoured and immensely proud, like my father George before me, to receive the Freedom of the City of Sheffield.

“I have had the privilege of proudly representing Sheffield for more than 30 years, firstly as Member of the European Parliament, then as Member of Parliament for Sheffield Central in the House of Commons.

“I have been able to work over the years with so many talented people in all walks of Sheffield life and, through my connections, helped set up the world-class Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre and now lead a team of dedicated people in delivering the Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park.”

Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park in the heart of the east end of Sheffield is the only Olympic Legacy Park outside a host city anywhere in the world.

A strong public-private sector partnership has delivered the first £100m development phase at the Park which has created an unrivalled cluster of life sciences assets and with the continued support of the partnership will deliver one of the leading Life Sciences Parks in the North of England, positively driving the Levelling Up Agenda.

As Development Partner, we will shortly unveil our Masterplan for the next phase of the Park, which will see approximately 1 million sq ft of commercial space delivered across an 80-acre zone around the existing facilities, to cement the Park’s position as a world-class hub for innovation in sport, health and wellbeing.

The Freedom of the City is an honour bestowed by the City Council upon a valued member of the community, or upon a visiting celebrity or dignitary. Richard joins a small list of people who have been given the honour – including Olympic gold medallists Lord Sebastian Coe and Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill and former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela.

Lord Mayor of Sheffield, Councillor Sioned Mair-Richards, said:

“I cannot think of a more worthy and deserving candidate than Richard Caborn to receive the highest honour we can bestow, Freedom of the City.

“He is undoubtedly one of Sheffield’s finest and his dedication is clear to see from his life’s work. Most people retire from Parliament and live a quiet life, Richard retired and immediately put his efforts into improving Sheffield and the lives of our citizens.

“Thanks to him we have the Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park and within it the Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre, which are making such a difference to people’s lives now and for our future, reflecting perfectly his Ministerial career and his passion and love of Sheffield.

“Richard’s heart and soul goes into everything he does, always putting this city first, and it is my absolute privilege to name him an Honorary Freeman. We will look forward to celebrating his achievements and this honour during an official ceremony in the New Year.”

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