Rhondda Cynon Taf Council has this week (Wednesday, November 24) approved the recommendation that the Freedom of the County Borough be granted to all its of its key workers and to a Welsh rugby legend.
The Freedom of the County Borough is the highest accolade that the local authority can bestow and is usually granted for outstanding service to, or achievement associated with, the County Borough of Rhondda Cynon Taf.
At a full Council meeting held earlier today, approval was given to two recommendations of a working group, initially chaired by previous Mayor of Rhondda Cynon Taf, Councillor Susan Morgans, now chaired by the Mayor of Rhondda Cynon Taf, Councillor Jill Bonetto, that all its key workers be conferred the honour, as well as Wales and British and Irish Lions rugby player Neil Jenkins MBE.
The Freedom of the County Borough is to be conferred on all key workers in recognition of their selfless hard work and dedication that saved the lives of many during the COVID-19 global pandemic and enabled public services to continue to operate. The Freedom of the County Borough, which is to be conferred to Neil Jenkins MBE, a resident of Rhondda Cynon Taf, is in recognition of his services to rugby union.
Rhondda Cynon Taf Mayor, Councillor Jill Bonetto, said:
“I am delighted that Council has approved our recommendations to confer the Freedom of Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough upon both Neil Jenkins MBE and all of our key workers.
“Both have made a huge impact within our County Borough and indeed the whole country. Neil is a proud Welshman who has brought so much national and international recognition to Pontypridd and Rhondda Cynon Taf, while we owe a huge debt of gratitude to all of our key workers for all that they did throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and continue to do to this day.”
Rhondda Cynon Taf has a proud record of recognising and honouring those who have given extraordinary service to the County Borough and has a well-established tradition of conferring the Freedom of the Borough on worthy candidates only. This accolade is highly prestigious and is intentionally relatively scarcely awarded to preserve its importance.
Previous recipients of the Freedom of Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough include the South Wales Miners; tenor Stuart Burrows OBE; The Royal Welsh; The Welsh Guards; author and playwright the late Elaine Morgan OBE; founder of the world-famous Nos Galan Road Races, the late Bernard Baldwin MBE; survivor of the Tunisia terror attack, Mathew James; swimmer David Roberts CBE; Wales, British and European boxer, the late David Dower MBE, The Cory Band; and MOD St Athan and all local service personnel of The Royal Air Force, Past and Present.
At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Council encouraged its residents to show their appreciation for key workers and NHS staff by joining in the nationwide ‘Clap for our Carers’ campaign, with thousands of people taking to their doorsteps and gardens to show their appreciation to all frontline workers.
The efforts and work carried out by key workers across Rhondda Cynon Taf and beyond has been instrumental to ensuring the safety of others, with selfless sacrifices being made by many.
Neil Jenkins MBE, who became a household name when playing for Pontypridd RFC at Sardis Road, has been involved in senior rugby in Wales, both as a player and a coach, for more than 30 years. He has also been involved in every British and Irish Lions Tour since 1997.
Having made his Wales international debut in 1991, he scored an amazing tally of 1,049 points for his country and a further 41 points for the British and Irish Lions), a record he held until 2008.