University of Leicester receives Freedom of the Borough honour

Mayor of Oadby and Wigston, Councillor Lily Kaufman, with University of Leicester President and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Nishan Canagarajah.

The University of Leicester has been conferred the Freedom of the Borough by Oadby and Wigston Borough Council (OWBC) - the highest civic honour the council can bestow – in the year that the University celebrates its Centenary.

As only the fourth recipient of the ceremonial civic honour given by the Borough Council, the University was honoured in recognition of its ‘commitment to showcasing the contribution and impact of its people, places and events, which demonstrates the University’s full and diverse history and steadfast commitment to inclusivity’.

The honour was first announced at a full council meeting in March this year, but COVID-19 restrictions meant the official ceremony for the conferral of the honour took place yesterday (Sunday 12 September).

Deputy Leader of OWBC, Councillor Samia Haq, said: “In the University’s Centenary year, the borough council wanted to find a way to say thank you to for its decades of outstanding service to our communities.

“Freedom of the Borough is the highest honour we can bestow and this felt appropriate given the positive contributions the University brings to our communities year in, year out – not to mention the impact it makes on the thousands of students that study there.”

Professor Nishan Canagarajah, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leicester, said: “We are deeply honoured to be awarded this great accolade by our friends and colleagues at Oadby and Wigston Borough Council, particularly in the year that we celebrate our Centenary. 

“Residents in Oadby and Wigston played a pivotal role in our founding story, by contributing to the community fundraising effort to establish the University as a living war memorial following the First World War.

“We are proud of the long and fruitful relationship between the University and the Borough, and I firmly believe that this will continue to remain a vital element of our future success.” 

Mayor of Oadby and Wigston, Councillor Lily Kaufman, said: “This is a fitting way to mark the University’s Centenary year and fully deserved by all connected to the University both past and present.

“It was a real honour for me to bestow the Freedom of the Borough upon the University and I’m sure that it will continue to be a hugely positively influence on our communities for hundreds more years to come.”

The University and its students play an important role within the borough, with its Student Village hub, accommodation and Botanic Garden all situated in Oadby. 

In modern times, Freedom of the Borough is a purely ceremonial honour, but it demonstrates that the recipient is held highest esteem by both the Council and people of the Borough.

The only other organisations or individuals bestowed with the Freedom of the Borough in Oadby and Wigston are:

  • 1988 - H. Embacher
  • 2011 - The Royal Anglian Regiment
  • 2012 - B(LDY) SQN RY [B (Leicestershire and Derbyshire Yeomanry) Squadron, Royal Yeomanry]