Coach operator Charles Reynolds among stalwart trio to be handed freedom of borough honour
- Credit: JAMES BASS PHOTOGRAPHY
Much-loved councillor and coach operator the late Charles Reynolds was among three town stalwarts to be granted an ancient honour in Great Yarmouth.
Mr Reynolds, who died in October, was given an honorary freedom of the borough placing him among notables including Admiral Lord Nelson and William Pitt the Elder.
He is believed to be one of the only people to receive the honour posthumously.
Also being recognised for their proud civic duty were Barry Coleman and Brian Walker.
Between them the trio have given some 120 years of service.
They were handed scrolls announcing their freedoms at a “moving and joyful” ceremony staged at St George’s Theatre.
Graham Plant, leader of Great Yarmouth Borough Council, said it was important to honour people for their dedication and contribution.
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He said it had been around a decade since someone was last nominated - the prestigious honour going to HMS Dauntless.
The idea had been to pay tribute to Mr Reynolds, who had never been mayor, with an Alderman title but he had to have left office.
However he was told before he died about the freedom plan and was reportedly “over the moon” and “quite emotional.”
His award was collected by his daughter Emma.
Town mayor Mary Coleman said: “It was a special evening personally and for our family as I signed all the citations and the scroll of honour, and to do that for my own husband made me particularly proud.
“I welcomed everyone, on behalf of the borough of Great Yarmouth, to witness a rare historic occasion when we bestowed the Freedom of the Borough on three loyal, long-serving councillors: Barry Coleman, Brian Walker and the late Charles Reynolds.
“It is an honorary title which does not have any special privileges attached, a way for the borough to say ‘thank you’.”
Other councillors to have received the honour are David Thompson, Jack Chase, Cora Batley, John Clymer and Harry McGee.
Mrs Coleman added: “To be linked to these notable people is truly a great honour. To be part of this ancient ceremony was certainly something we will all find memorable. We all found it a moving ceremony but also a joyful occasion when party politics were set aside as both the main parties proposed and seconded each person. It is a rare occasion when this takes place and we all felt privileged to be there.
“The voting, of course, was unanimous.”
About Charles Reynolds
Charles Joseph Reynolds was born in Caister on Sea on the March 23 1956.
He sadly passed away in October after losing his battle with cancer.
He was educated at Caister Secondary Modern and studied engineering at Great Yarmouth College.
After college he took an apprenticeship at Mann Egerton for engineering.
His father then sent him to work at Caroline Seagull to gain experience.
He worked in the family business - Reynolds Coaches in Caister from the age of 21 alongside his family.
He married Julie in 1984 and their daughter Emma was born in 1985.
Charles was 16 when he first became involved in politics, joining the Conservative Party.
He was first elected on to the Council in 1979, where he stood for Caister, later moving to the Ormesby Ward where he stood until he died.
Charles stood as the Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Great Yarmouth in 2001.
He served on Norfolk County Council from 1981 to 1985.
Charles served as shadow leader of the council from 1992 until 1997. He was also a cabinet member, deputy leader and chairman for development control.
Charles supported tourism and was a founder member of the Tourist Authority.
He was also a director of Great Yarmouth Racecourse.
Charles was Des O‘Connor’s biggest fan.
About Barry Coleman
Barry Coleman was born in Leicestershire in 1943, living there with his mother and grandmother until his father was demobbed from the RAF at the end of the Second World War.
Following the war Barry’s family moved back to his father’s home county of Norfolk living in the village of Ashmanhaugh, near Wroxham.
Barry was educated at the Paston School, North Walsham and is married to Mary. They have two children; Helen, a Lieutenant Colonel in
the Army and Andrew, an off-shore operations engineer.
Barry is grandfather to Max.
Barry is a retired secondary school head of humanities, his specialist subjects being geography and history.
He was first elected to the council in 1976 for Martham ward and held that position until 1992.
Following a break of seven years Barry returned to the council in 1999 and is currently the ward councillor for the West Flegg ward.
Barry held the position of leader of the council from 2000 to 2011 and was mayoy in 1983/84 and 2011/12.
He has held the position of chairman for housing, economic development, public health and environment, as well as working with Norfolk Waste Partnership where he was instrumental in bringing the recycling collections to Norfolk.
He was chairman of the Preservation Trust for 10 years and was one of the key members in delivering the Time and Tide Museum.
Barry is the chairman of the St Georges Theatre Trust and has served as a member of the Port Authority.
Barry’s personal interests include modern political history, football - especially Norwich City, tennis and travel.
Barry is also a heritage guide for Great Yarmouth.
About Brian Walker
Brian Walker was born in Gateshead in 1946 and left school at the age of 15.
He started an apprenticeship in engineering before his family moved to Great Yarmouth in 1963, completing it at local company Gus Lee & Boswell which was based on the Fish Wharf.
He then moved to Hartman Fibre and on to several local engineering firms ending up at Brisco Engineering, where he remained for 25 years until his retirement.
He was first elected to the council in 1979 and apart from a two year non-enforced break has represented the Magdalen ward ever since.
Brian has been married to Colleen for 36 years and they recently renewed their wedding vows at Liverpool Football Club.
They have five children between them.
Brian was chairman of the council in 1991/1992 and served as chairman on committees such as economic development and south Gorleston development area where he was involved in setting up Beacon Park as well as policy and resources.
He also held a cabinet postion for resources and was leader of the council in 1997.
Brian also served as a county councillor from 2005 to 2009.