John joins global greats in Freedom of the City of London honour

Former Burnley Football Club director John Sullivan has been given the Freedom of the City of London '“ an honour normally reserved for heads of state and other figures of global standing.

Mr Sullivan (72) was given the prestigious honour in recognition of his many years’ involvement with the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme and the St John Ambulance.

He joins a long list of luminaries to be made Freemen including Sir Winston Churchill, Princess Diana, Nelson Mandela, Morgan Freeman, Bill Gates and fellow Burnley old boy, the actor Sir Ian McKellen.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Several American Presidents as well as leading figures from science, literature and the arts have also been recipients.

Mr Sullivan said: “It is a great honour, not just for me but the whole of Burnley.

“I am very proud that Burnley Football Club was the first in the country to incorporate the Duke of Edinburgh Award.

“It has been a great scheme for young people who have benefited from it over many years.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

After the ceremony at the Guildhall in London, Mr Sullivan dined at the House of Lords with the Guild of the Freeman of London, of which he is also a member.

Mr Sullivan’s service to the St John Ambulance has in the past saw him made a Commander of the Order of St John.

In 2012, he also received the Order of the Polar Star for his contribution to Mongolian sport and youth development programmes in his role as president of the Commonwealth Judo Association.

Mr Sullivan, who was born in Burnley and supported the Clarets since he was a small child, became a director at Turf Moor in 2004.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The granting of the Honorary Freedom of the City of London is extremely rare and only generally awarded to royalty, heads of state or to figures of genuine global standing.

It is the highest honour which is in the power of the City of London to bestow on someone.

The first historically to be so honoured was William Pitt the Elder in 1757.

One of the privileges of being a Freeman is being allowed to lead sheep over London Bridge, an act Mr Sullivan will actually carry out in September for charity.

The Freedom in the City today is still closely associated with membership of the City Livery Companies.