Freedom of Beccles honour for Paralympian hero

jordan catchpole

Jordan Catchpole won gold at Tokyo 2020 with Paralympics GB - Credit: DENISE BRADLYE/Archant2021

The honours continue to flood in for a gold-medal winning swimmer after becoming the first person to be granted the freedom of Beccles in half a century.

Jordan Catchpole wasn't born the last time the honour was handed out, but the 22-year-old can now add it to his growing list of achievements.

Beccles Town Councillors unanimously agreed to support the award, for only the third time in the town's history, at a meeting on Wednesday night, January 26.

olympics

Great Britain's Jessica-Jane Applegate, Bethany Firth, Jordan Catchpole and Reece Dunn after winning gold in the 4x100m Mixed Relay S14 during day four of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games in Japan. - Credit: PA

As part of Paralympics GP at Tokyo 2020 last summer, Mr Catchpole claimed gold - setting a new World Record in the process - in the mixed 4x100m freestyle relay S14.

To cap off a momentous year, Mr Catchpole became one of the youngest people to be made an MBE in the New Year's honours list for services to swimming.

He said: "It is a huge honour to take on the role of Honorary Freeman of Beccles, a role which I will take on with great pride for the town.

"None of my recent successes have sunk in at all yet and I think it will take many years before it really sinks in how these last few months have been.

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"All my friends and family have been really happy and proud with the successes but it is also a shock and is really surreal that all of this has happened in such a short space of time.

"I am looking forward to preparing and serving the town for the future now."

The Team Waveney swimmer is also a two-time European silver medallist and two-time silver and bronze world championship medallist.

Richard Stubbings, mayor of Beccles, said: “Councillors voted unanimously to support the award of Freeman of Beccles to Jordan Catchpole as they wanted to acknowledge the significance of Jordan’s achievement in winning a Paralympic Games gold medal.

"Jordan will become just the third person to be granted this honour, and the first since 1970.

"We will be arranging for a scroll to mark the award to be presented to Jordan at a future meeting of the Town Council.”

Mr Catchpole is now focusing on training for future championships, with his sight set on Paris 2024.

Paralympian swimmer Jordan Catchpole, 21, from Beccles, with his gold medal for the mixed 4X100m fre

Jordan Catchpole won gold at Tokyo 2020 with Paralympics GB - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

What is an honorary freeman?

While historically the honour entitled the recipient to special privileges such as voting in parliamentary elections, now the award is completely honorary. 

A report, prepared ahead of the town council meeting, states: "A local council is permitted to create as honorary freeman/freewoman of its area 'persons of distinction and persons who have rendered eminent service to that place or are.

"Such an award is purely for merit.

"It does not confer any special privileges or rights."

Beccles educated chemist Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin was the first in Beccles to be awarded the honour in 1965, a year after winning her Nobel Prize.

Longstanding local volunteer Pamela Mary Hardy was also made Freewoman of Beccles five years later in 1970.