Two of Preston’s most revered citizens are to receive the freedom of the city.
Community champion Lady Milena Grenfell-Baines and former mayor and ex-council leader Ken Hudson are both to become Honorary Freemen, in recognition of their services to Preston.
Special formal ceremonies will be held for both of the local treasures, who said they were delighted to be honoured in such a way.
“I was completely stunned, I just couldn’t see the reason”, said Lady Grenfell-Baines, who became an ambassador for Preston after arriving as a Second World War refugee.
“I had to sit down when I heard the news because I can think of so many people who deserve it for what they have done in their own way, and you read of all these people who have done so much for charity.
“I can only think it’s for the international connections.”
She added: “I am delighted, I have always lived in Preston ever since I was married.
“The Liverpool Philharmonic plays a large part in my life and has done for the last 40 years.
“That’s my other big interest, and of course, food as well - I’ve been involved with cooking demonstrations. And I do a lot of talks about the Holocaust, I’ve done about 25 since January.”
The ceremony is due to be held in February next year, and Lady Grenfell-Baines added: “Few things surprise me in this life, but that really was totally unexpected.”
Ken Hudson, who stepped down as the Conservative leader on Preston Council earlier this year said he was “absolutely delighted” to have been chosen to join the list of honorary freemen of Preston.
He said: “I lived in St Paul’s Road for a while and moved to Whittingham and lived in a hospital house there until I was 21.
“I’m Preston through and through.
“This is an absolutely perfect way to step down from the council and be awarded in this way.
“Obviously it’s not just about service on the council, it’s on a wider remit such as being a magistrate.
“And it’s a bit like always putting the rural areas first.”
Mr Hudson served on the council for 36 years, with an aim of “getting equality for rural communities.”
He said: “Up to recently I’ve managed to restrict development in the rural areas to an acceptable level but unfortunately, just at the time I’m leaving, it’s anybody’s game.”
Mr Hudson, who joined the council in 1978, will receive the freedom of the city at a ceremony this month.
He said: “It’s something that’s not necessarily just for me. It’s some recognition of all the people in the rural areas who I’ve supported and they have supported me over the 36 years.”
Coun Nick Pomfret, Mayor of Preston, said: “Honorary Freeman is the highest honour that Preston can bestow on anyone and it is fitting that both Lady Grenfell-Baines and Ken Hudson are to be invited to become Honorary Freeman. Throughout their lives they have given unstinting service to the city and the people of Preston.
“They have given their time and energy to help others and make a real difference to Preston.
“They are following in very select and special footsteps as Honorary Freeman joining the likes of Nick Park and Andrew Flintoff as well as others such as former Coun Ian Hall, who too gave selfless service to the city of Preston.”
The title of Honorary Alderman is also set to be bestowed on Albert Richardson, Jennifer Greenhalgh and Bill Shannon, who stepped down from the council this year.